Crossbench climate push as Nats lash “dole bludger” renewables

Lower house crossbenchers are throwing their support behind an independent MP’s bill to curb emissions and re-establish a climate commission.

Feb 10, 2020, updated Feb 10, 2020
Photo: AAP

Photo: AAP

Warringah MP Zali Steggall’s bill also requires a plan for Australia to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“I really urge my fellow MPs to think of this on a matter of principle,” Steggall told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“This is for the long-term safety of Australians.”

She hoped the bill marked the end to Australia’s “climate wars” and called on Liberal and Labor MPs to support it.

It comes as the government considers adopting a net zero emissions target by 2050, something Steggall says it already is obligated to do under the Paris Agreement.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the government expects to deliver a long-term emissions reduction strategy before the COP26 meeting in Scotland.

“The pathway to meaningful impacts on global emissions is through development and deployment of new technologies,” Taylor told the Nine newspapers.

“That is where Australia can have the biggest impact on reducing global emissions.”

Steggall’s bill would require the commission to prepare a public climate risk assessment every five years, while providing annual progress reports.

The government would oversee a transition to a lower-carbon economy while setting an emissions budget.

Steggall said she’d already had “productive meetings” with MPs from both parties, hoping party politics wouldn’t get in the way.

She was flanked by fellow lower house independents Andrew Wilkie, Dr Helen Haines and Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie, as well as health and agriculture advocates.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said coal still had a future in Australia but renewable energy supplies would continue to grow.

“We’re assessing what is both environmentally appropriate and economically responsible,” Cormann said.

“We will continue to make our judgments based on Australia’s national interests.”

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Nationals MP Michelle Landry said Australia needed cheap, reliable power for the manufacturing sector.

“That’s what this (government strategy) is about,” Landry told reporters.

“What does annoy me is that there are people in Melbourne who are dead against coal, but where does the power come from?”

Inner-city Liberals are agitating for more government action on climate change.

But former resources minister Matt Canavan is ramping up calls for a new coal-fired power station in Queensland

Canavan described renewable energy providers as dole bludgers.

“Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Courier-Mail.

A net zero emissions target would see Australia balance its carbon books by reducing emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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