Nationals leader David Littleproud says his party will not support legislating a more ambitious mid-term emissions reduction target during the next parliamentary term because “government heavy-handedness” is not needed to push through the low-emissions transition. .
In the wake of the Coalition’s devastating electoral defeat, moderate Liberals are now urging Peter Dutton to allow the party floor to take a more ambitious position on climate change policy, and at least two MPs have signaled they would be willing to cross the word to support labour. 2030 target of 43%.
But Littleproud told Guardian Australia that the policy set out by Scott Morrison did not need to change.
“The Nationals support the target we brought to the election, but the target is just that, a target, and Australians have shown that if the government creates the environment and the infrastructure around it, they will exceed the target.
“The big hand of government doesn’t have to come in and legislate: Australians are doing this, the market is doing this, and I think we get better results if we put the environment and infrastructure around it.”
Asked if there were any circumstances under which the Nationals would agree to a change in the Coalition’s mid-term goal, Littleproud said, “We don’t think the big hand of government should do more than set the mood.
“We set ourselves a target, we made an international commitment and that gives us a license to trade, and I think that’s important.
“I think Australians have shown with Paris and what we did with Kyoto that we have a proud record of exceeding our targets and governments don’t have to do that, the Australian people do and we will continue down the path of investing in technology to help them. to achieve that instead of taxes.
“One of the things that worries me about legislating 43% is that it will introduce a safeguard mechanism that will increase taxes and increase cost of living pressures. That’s what worries me when a government wants to legislate a target with a tax attached. We don’t need to do that. We have shown that we don’t need to do that.”
During the last parliament, the Nationals agreed to a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, but the Coalition’s junior partner, then led by Barnaby Joyce, rejected an attempt by Morrison to raise the ambition of the then heavily criticized government target, of 26% to 2030. Cut of 28%.
Littleproud is significantly more progressive on the climate transition than Joyce, who told her party room during last year’s tense domestic policy deliberation that she did not support a net-zero commitment.
But the new Nationals leader has tough transition opponents to handle in his party room, including Joyce and Queenslanders Matt Canavan, Keith Pitt and newcomer Colin Boyce.
During the election campaign, Boyce declared that there was “wiggle room” in the Coalition’s commitment to net zero, and Canavan declared that the goal was “everywhere except the screaming.” In the wake of the May election loss, Joyce noted that the Nationals may drop their support for net-zero emissions.
But since the election defeat that handed six Heartland Liberal seats to teal independents, Liberals have told Guardian Australia there needs to be a significant reassessment of Morrison-era climate change policy.
This issue will face its first test when parliament reconvenes next month and the Albanian government introduces a bill to enshrine the 43% emissions target in law.
On Sunday, Dutton said the Liberal and National parties would vote against Labour’s 43% target. He said that he believed the opposition could revise its median target to around 35% before the next election.
On Tuesday, Dutton said legislating a compromise imposes more onerous requirements on businesses and households.
“We take our politics to the elections,” he said. “Millions of Australians voted for us on that basis and that is the position we will take. Obviously, over time, if you have new information in front of you, if you have a new proposal that can be considered by the nightclub.”
The new leader of the opposition told 2GB that Australia needed to do “everything we can to increase the use of renewable energy, but [do] in a way that doesn’t turn out the lights.”
Right now, he said, coal and gas were required to consolidate renewables because batteries still couldn’t do that job for long periods.
But Tasmanian Liberal Bridget Archer told Guardian Australia on Tuesday that she believed a bipartisan approach to the target should be considered, while NSW Senator Andrew Bragg said he would consider supporting Labor legislation.” guided by the opinions of investors”.
Veteran moderate liberal Anne Ruston, now an opposition health spokeswoman, says the party floor needs to have the debate. “It’s up to the party floor to reframe our position now that we’re through elections for our future political position,” she told Guardian Australia.
Senior moderate figures, including former finance minister Simon Birmingham and NSW treasurer Matt Kean, also believe the Liberals need to adopt stronger climate policy to help win back disaffected voters who would not tolerate inaction. .