Nationals senator says voters would punish the federal government for climate policy change

PIVOT: The Nationals' Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce speak to media. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong -THE CANBERRA TIMES, ACM
PIVOT: The Nationals' Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce speak to media. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong -THE CANBERRA TIMES, ACM

Federal government Senator Matt Canavan told reporters in Canberra he thinks voters would punish the government for changing its view on climate change.

Senator Canavan's thoughts on the federal government's change in course on climate change policy came after Labor increased its pressure on the government in Parliament to come up with a plan.

Mr Canavan told reporters he did not know how the government could convince voters any policy change was genuine.

"How would we pivot from two years ago saying that radical cuts to emissions would wreck the Australian economy and then two years later turn around and say, 'oh look sorry, we got that all wrong'? he said.

"Well, I'd be pretty pissed if I was Bill Shorten."

Labor Party MPs say the federal government is divided on climate change and is trying to hoodwink voters into believing they are committed to establishing a climate change policy leading into the next election.

Government Ministers tried to shut down debate in Parliament as Labor went on the attack on the issue.

Member for Macarthur Dr Mike Freelander said the government had had eight years to develop a policy and failed to do so.

"Again the Coalition has demonstrated that they are paralysed when it comes to climate change and energy policy," he said.

"Having already claimed the scalp of one Prime Minister, the Coalition is still unable to find common ground on climate change.

"So long as the Coalition Government remains divided, Australians will continue to miss out on the jobs and economic opportunities that would come with innovative and future-proof energy policies.

"My own community has a robust manufacturing sector, and I would like to see it further thrive and be given opportunities to contribute to Australia's changing energy market.

"The Government continues to talk in cliches about technology, but does little to support it. We have great opportunities here and we must be clear about our focus as we and the rest of the world deal with our changing climate, and work to leave a viable planet behind for our children and grandchildren."

Senator for NSW Tony Sheldon said Labor's plan for net-zero by 2050 is all about jobs.

"It's about putting Australia at the front of a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity on renewables. Labor will invest $100 million to support 10,000 apprenticeships in new energy jobs," he said.

"And let's not forget, many of these jobs are in rural and regional Australia, as well as in crucial places like western Sydney.

"Labor knows there is no alternative to net zero emissions by 2050. And it knows there must be credible targets along the way.

"By seizing the initiative now, Australia can be a renewable energy superpower. A Labor Government will set the policy in place for this step-change.

"On Monday, the Morrison government hurriedly shut down an Opposition motion that would have committed Australia to supporting net-zero by 2050. Instead, Morrison was offered the numbers for bipartisan support on net-zero 2050 and he betrayed Australia."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would take an updated policy platform to Glasgow as the negotiations with the Nationals continued.

"What we are doing is carefully considering the implications of these very serious issues for Australians right across the country," he said.

"The government decision on the government's commitments for Australia in relation to COP26 will be made by the government in cabinet."