Federal and WA Nationals split on climate policy ahead of UN climate summit

Tom Shanahan & Sarah IsonGreat Southern Herald
Peter Rundle on his property, inset, Barnaby Joyce
Camera IconPeter Rundle on his property, inset, Barnaby Joyce

Nationals WA members have reinforced their belief in the importance of climate action action ahead of COP26, despite hesitancy from their Federal counterparts.

After a net-zero commitment from the Young WA Nationals at the party’s State conference in Northam earlier this month, Roe MP Peter Rundle said his party recognised the impacts climate change was having on regional WA.

“We recognise the South West corner of WA is a drying climate ... we reaffirmed that status at our State conference” he said.

“On my farm, in particular, I have made steps to try and harvest more water and I recognise that it’s a real issue that is affecting us as I have seen over the last 20 to 30 years of farming.”

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It is understood Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to take Australia’s commitment to a 2050 net-zero emissions target to COP26, the UN climate summit in Glasgow, later this month.

But the Federal Nationals have yet to commit to a net-zero target, with leader Barnaby Joyce even threatening to quit Cabinet if they could not reach an agreement on the issue.

“We know about international obligations but the reality is, Australia’s actions by itself have little effect, but it could have a major effect on the regional economy,” he told Channel 7.

“Research and modelling are not letters from the almighty, they are the views of people on a certain date with certain information before them. What we have to do is make sure that we make a decision not just for now but for long into the future.”

Mr Rundle stood by his State party’s position, but he said he understood the Federal Nationals’ hesitancy on committing to net-zero emissions to make sure regional Australians did not lose out.

“My take on it is our Federal members are wanting to make sure regional Australians don’t pay the price for this on their own,” he said.

“It is my understanding that a lot of it has been about trying to quantify what all these targets mean for our farmers and regional communities.

“I hope they come to a solution that will send us in the right direction, similar to that of the WA Nationals.”

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