8 years, 3 prime ministers and still the Nationals stall Australia on climate - Women's Agenda

8 years, 3 prime ministers and still the Nationals stall Australia on climate

We need to talk about Resources Minister Keith Pitt
Keith Pitt

Yesterday I wrote about the gall of Barnaby Joyce saying he won’t be held “hostage” by the Liberal party pushing for Australia to commit to more ambitious targets on addressing climate change.

I shared disgust at Joyce and others in the Nationals declaring they need more time on determining whether to commit to a net zero by 2050 target, the absolute bare minimum that Australia should be doing right now. Disgust at the fact it is Joyce who will get to determine the price that must be paid in order to have his tiny segment of the Coalition agree to the target.

Today, we need to talk about Resources Minister Keith Pitt, who refused to answer whether he thinks climate change is “real” or not, on ABC News Breakfast. “The climate’s changing, it’s always changed Fran,” he eventually responded, before noting that he doesn’t believe Australia can make “one iota” of difference on climate action.

Now, just days before those major international talks are due to commence, Joyce, Pitt and the Nationals continue to stall on agreeing to the 2050 commitment. They’re claiming that their four hour meeting wasn’t enough, that – as Matt Canavan, the former resources minister said – they’re “being asked to marry a girl we haven’t met”. Pitt said they have only had “48 hours” to consider a complex proposal and that “right now, it’s a no.”

But the reality is they’ve had decades of research – if they ever cared to look. They’ve had eight years in power. They’ve seen three prime ministers. They’ve seen multiple disasters locally. They’ve seen the regional communities, farmers, the agriculture sector – the very people they claim to represent – expressing their concerns about climate change and committing to their own net-zero policies.

They’ve taken Australia to one minute to midnight, intentionally.

And yet they claim they’ve not had enough time, that they won’t be held “hostage” when clearly the Nationals are and have been the hostage taker. They’ve had a good friend in Morrison, who has himself hoped to avoid the issue for the duration of his time in office, but is now under considerable pressure locally and international to make the most minimal of commitments.

Joyce has made a concession this morning, declaring that his party is not going to “mimic bullying or coercing the Prime Minister.”

How kind of him.

Liberals have expressed concern about the billions in taxpayer dollars to be dished out in return for Nationals support, while Joyce tells the party room “it’s not a case of holding anyone to ransom or anything like that.”

Except that is totally the case. For Morrison to take that minimal commitment to Glasgow, he’s going to need to give up something to his deputy. Something to Joyce. And Pitt. And Canavan and friends. Something that future generations will pay for, on top of the already high price we are asking for them from the glacial pace of committing to prevent the worst of climate change.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world is noting Australia as an “outlier” on climate, as failing to do its part as a rich nations and land as particularly letting down our Pacific neighbours.

If you don’t believe climate change is real or that Australia can make a difference, what are you doing in parliament?

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