CANBERRA, AAP – Federal Liberal MPs say the tide is turning against their Nationals colleagues opposed to Scott Morrison’s plan for a new roadmap to reduce emissions.
Tensions have been high in government ranks over an internal push to commit Australia to net-zero emissions by 2050, with the Nationals hitting out at the proposal and saying it would hurt the regions.
However, moderate Liberals are backing the plan and North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman says the climate measures will benefit regional areas.
“Right now, [the Nationals] are focused on what the economic transition would be, but the tide is shifting,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“It will be a driver of new jobs and industries and this is the silver lining of the climate change cloud.”
Mr Zimmerman also said the prime minister had yet to make a decision on whether to attend in person a major global climate conference in Glasgow in November.
A survey of government backbenchers has found 12 – including Mr Zimmerman, Liberal senator Jim Molan, and former Nationals leader Michael McCormack – support a net-zero emissions target.
But the majority of backbenchers have yet to commit, the survey published by The Australian found.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said a 2050 net-zero emissions target was achievable.
“Agriculture can play its part,” she told ABC television.
“I talk to my colleagues all the time, there’s a range of views …. We need to bring the Australian population with us.”
A full Nationals party room meeting on the issue is not expected to be held until October 17, by which time Mr Morrison could release more details.
Meanwhile, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said it was easy for urban Liberals like Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to push for the target because the impact on their “affluent constituents” would be minimal.
“Our people, by contrast, are generally living in the electorates with the lowest per capita incomes, while the industries that underpin our regional economies are emission-intensive,” she wrote in an opinion piece published in The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday.