The Nationals Have Sort Of Committed To Net-Zero In A Secret Plan They’re Not Making Public
"The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club."
Just days before Prime Minister Scott Morrison is scheduled to attend the United Nations’ COP 26 climate change conference, the Nationals have finally kinda, sort of, agreed to a general idea of, maybe, one day agreeing to commit to net-zero… at some point in the future.
“We are in support of a process going forward that would go towards a 2050 emissions target,” said Barnaby Joyce in a statement on Sunday afternoon.
“Obviously, that is dependent upon what we see in the cabinet submissions reflecting the conversations between myself and the prime minister.”
If that sounds confusing to you, that’s because it is extremely confusing. The Nationals — led by Joyce — have agreed to a net-zero target by 2050 commitment, in theory. However, we don’t know any of the specifics as to what they’ve actually agreed to, and considering COP 26 is quite literally next week, time is running out.
Joyce’s comments came after the Nationals met for two hours on Sunday night but did not hold a formal vote on the issue. A tally of the MPs in the room had 12 in support of net-zero, with nine in opposition. However, this was not an official vote.
Following the meeting, Joyce called the prime minister to alert him on the situation.
“We recognise this has been a challenging issue for the Nationals,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“I thank the DPM for his leadership and his colleagues for their considered support. I greatly respect the process they have undertaken in reaching this decision.”
So, What Exactly Did The Nationals Agree To?
The Federal Cabinet is yet to officially sign off on the deal for net-zero by 2050, which will reportedly happen at some point in the coming days.
As for what the Nationals actually agreed to when it comes to net-zero, well, Australia has been effectively left in the dark under the secret deal.
So, at this stage, it’s hard to even say they have committed to net-zero because we don’t actually know what they’ve said yes to.
The Nationals provided a list of demands for the Liberals to meet about the proposed net zero plan last week. However, the deputy PM has refused to make the list of demands, or the list of offers from the Prime Minister public.
“We are in support of a process going forward that would go towards the 2050 emissions target — obviously that’s dependent upon what we see in the cabinet submission and reflecting the conversations in the agreements between myself and the prime minister,” said Joyce.
“Out of respect for absolutely everybody in that party room, I’m going to keep any position of any person, absolutely private.”
“I said that this was the position, not of the leader, not of the executive, but would be a position of the party room, so we went through a process … to find the view of the party room, and the party room has made their view clear.”
Meanwhile, Nationals Minister Bridget McKenzie likened the situation to, ahh, Fight Club???
“The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club,” she said in a Senate estimate hearing when quizzed on what the Nationals received in return for the deal.
However, just hours after these comments, Morrison has confirmed that Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt will return to the cabinet, following the Nationals support of net-zero.
“Minister Pitt is a powerful voice for the resources sector and ensuring that we build upon Australia’s strength in traditional exports, while harnessing opportunities in the new energy economy and critical minerals,” Morrison said in a statement.
“Minister Pitt has been a strong advocate for regional and rural communities, both in his portfolio responsibilities and as a local MP.”
While the details of the plan are still secret, it was widely reported that the Nationals would push for another seat in Cabinet if they agreed to net-zero.
Considering they have now received said seat, it can be assumed that some sort of deal has been reached. However, the details are still yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has condemned the secrecy, asserting that the Australian people have a right to know.
“Well, there should be full transparency about everything that’s on this list and this debate,” Albanese said.
Cabinet is expected to meet — and finalise — the plan for net zero in a meeting on Monday afternoon.