WA Nationals applaud Keith Pitt’s return to Cabinet

Minister for Resources Keith Pitt at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Camera IconMinister for Resources Keith Pitt at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

The Nationals WA have welcomed Federal Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt’s return to Cabinet, just weeks after a policy motion calling for the “portfolio to be returned” passed at the party’s State Conference in Northam.

Mr Pitt — demoted to the outer ministry after Barnaby Joyce regained The Nationals leadership in June — was reinstated to the role on Monday under a deal that saw the party sign up to the 2050 net zero target.

The Nationals Member for Hinkler, Queensland, had retained ministerial responsibilities for water resources but lost the Northern Australia portfolio after the National Party’s leadership spill that saw Michael McCormack lose the leadership.

Mr Pitt, an outspoken critic of climate targets and a proponent of coal and gas, was reinstated just one day after the Federal Nationals on Sunday gave in-principal support for the Federal Government’s plan for net zero emissions by 2050.

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The move gives The Nationals an extra Cabinet seat with their numbers going up from four to five in the Cabinet of 24, while their frontbench numbers remain the same.

The National Party’s in-principle support for the target, was a breakthrough for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who wants to take an ambitious plan to slash Australia’s carbon emissions when he leaves on Thursday for a United Nations summit in Glasgow.

In a statement, the Nationals WA said Mr Pitt’s reinstatement had “underscored” the significance of the resources and water industries nationwide.

The Young Nationals had called for the Resources portfolio to be returned to Cabinet at the WA Nationals State Conference and convention in Northam earlier this month.

Debate on the floor focused on the vital importance mineral resources hold for both the West Australian and Australian economies, as well as the need for the sector to be represented at the nation’s decision-making table.

State President Tony Crook said the return of the portfolio highlighted the value of grass roots members participating in the democratic process.

“Every West Australian understands how important resources are to our economic fortunes, and The Nationals WA understands the value it has for our regional communities,” Mr Crook said.

“It is very pleasing to see a policy position brought forward by our youngest members delivered by the Prime Minister just 15 days later.

“It is an important win by The Nationals federally. Success like this reinforces how local advocacy can influence national decisions.”

The Glasgow summit, known as COP26, will assess progress since nations agreed in the Paris accord to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The meeting in Glasgow is widely seen as the last chance to hold global warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels.

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