CANBERRA, AAP – The Nationals are open to discussing the prime minister’s preference for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but they want to square the ledger for the regions.
“We get it all right but we are not going to trade ourselves away until we can see the detail and see what we can get,” deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud told Sky News on Tuesday.
He said they would look at it, but there was a price to pay.
“We copped it in the neck in regional Australia for everyone to sleep soundly in metropolitan Australia and it is time our mob got repaid for it.”
Senior Nationals figure Darren Chester, who voted against the return of Barnaby Joyce as leader, said the party needed to deal itself into the debate.
“For the people in regional communities, these aren’t abstract arguments,” he said.
“We want to make sure our people, their jobs are protected and they’ve got opportunities to be part of those renewable opportunities as well.”
He said the regions had higher transport costs and needed decisions that focused on big emitting industries in National Party electorates.
Reinstalled Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has been sworn in as Scott Morrison’s deputy, but the two party leaders are yet to strike a deal on priorities.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley was digging in on net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which Scott Morrison touted to leaders at the G7 meeting in Cornwall last week.
“Net zero is not dead in the water,” she said.
“Net zero will happen as soon as possible and the prime minister has made that very clear.”
She said the strength of the Liberal and National coalition was the ability for people to hold different views.
Liberal elder statesman Warren Entsch declared himself “100 per cent” for net zero by 2050.
But Resources Minister Keith Pitt reiterated net zero by 2050 was not an agreed position.
“There has not been a final commitment for that to happen,” Mr Pitt said.
“We want to ensure that those costs are not passed on to the people.”
Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan, who called the spill motion that reinstalled Mr Joyce, is calling for a harder line on emissions and support for coal-fired power.
“There’s been a lot of talk about international agreements and what other countries want us to do,” he told Nine.
“If there are people in the Liberal Party who support, who are against those interests and jobs and the people I represent, I will fight against them,” he said.
Opposition climate change and energy spokesman Chris Bowen said Australia could be hit with a carbon tax as part of the economic cost of not having a net zero target.
“It will be imposed not in Australia but on Australia by other countries,” he said.
He accused the government of having a clear bias against renewable energy, citing recent decisions on new projects from Pilbara to north Queensland.
Independent MP Zali Steggall doubled down.
“The call is urgent to lock in net zero by 2050 and double our 2030 emission reduction ambitions,” she said.