Nationals remain divided over net zero as Cop26 looms

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has swatted away criticism of the government’s climate track record as the infighting over net zero within the Coalition carried on for a second day.

Despite two consecutive days of meetings, the Nationals have yet to come to an agreement on the government’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Labor latched onto the indecision, dedicating much of question time to quizzing the government over its lack of a plan.

QUESTION TIME
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison was under fire in question time. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

“Why does the Prime Minister always go missing when leadership is required and never take responsibility for anything?,” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese asked.

“I thought this was question time not sledge time,” Mr Morrison quipped back.

Asked if he would repeat previous comments that renewable energy targets were “nuts”, Mr Morrison took aim at Labor’s 2019 election proposal to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.

“We said that was the wrong policy … It is still the wrong policy,” he said.

“The Labor Party wants to write a blank cheque which they want Australians to pay for when it comes to this issue, Mr Speaker. Well, not from the Liberals and the Nationals.”

QUESTION TIME
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce says the Nationals won’t be rushed to come to a decision. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Morrison confirmed that the government would not increase its 2030 target to reduce carbon emissions.

However, Mr Morrison told a Liberal Party meeting that cabinet would decide the net-zero policy and Australia would go to the UN summit with a nationally determined contribution.

Earlier, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce warned his party would not be rushed on the decision.

“I'm not going to give a time constraint to it,“ Mr Joyce said.

“Sometimes if you start giving time constraints you will get one answer if people are not completely comfortable, and I don’t think that is the answer people want.

QUESTION TIME
Camera IconThe Nationals have been locked in meetings for two days, but they’ve yet to reach an agreement. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

“If someone believes they are being forced into a corner, you know what they are going to do, they are going to say no.”

While the Nationals remain divided on the deal, which is rumoured to include billions of dollars to be given to regional communities, backbencher Darren Chester said he was positive a deal would be done.

“It’s been a good process so far, it’s a little bit of work to be done still, but we’re heading in the right direction,” Mr Chester told Sky News.

“My recent tipping skills on National Party outcomes hasn't been that good, so I probably shouldn’t maybe forecast where the majority might fall, and my personal view is we need a credible position on climate change, and I believe a net-zero position is where the whole world is heading.”

Liberal moderate Jason Falinski had suggested Mr Morrison should bypass the Nationals party room if the Coalition junior partner were to shoot down net zero.

Originally published as Nationals remain divided over net zero as Cop26 looms

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