Home » Australia Politics Live: Scott Morrison In Last-Ditch Talks With Nationals On Net Zero

Australia Politics Live: Scott Morrison In Last-Ditch Talks With Nationals On Net Zero

23:09

Yesterday it was Pikachus – today koalas.

Extinction Rebellion Spokesperson Miriam Robinson has commented on the latest XR protest outside parliament house:

Mikearoo (@mpbowers)

Extinction rebellion protest blocks the road out the front of Parliament House ⁦@AmyRemeikis⁩ pic.twitter.com/5bToTsa1Nj

October 18, 2021

“Environment Minister Sussan Ley has recently given approval for three new coal mines. This is not the action of a minister who understands that the climate emergency is real and that the government owes a Duty of Care for future generations, not only of people, but animals too.

“We demand government drop its appeal against the Federal Court ruling that it owes a ‘Duty of Care’ to protect Australia’s children from the dangers of climate related harm. We just want our government to do their job. All we ask is that they act in the interests of the people, not their donors and not the corporations. Is this too much to ask?”

23:05

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23:03

NSW and Victoria have posted their Covid numbers for this morning:

NSW Health (@NSWHealth)

NSW COVID-19 update – Tuesday 19 October 2021
In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 92.1% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 80.8% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/hewCu5K7XG

October 18, 2021

VicGovDH (@VicGovDH)

Reported yesterday: 1,749 new local cases and 0 cases acquired overseas.
– 36,751 vaccines administered
– 68,702 test results received
– Sadly, 11 people with COVID-19 have died

More later: t.co/OCCFTAchah#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/0XWtbB2avZ

October 18, 2021

Sending all of the love to the families and loved ones of those who have lost people during the pandemic.

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22:49

Barnaby Joyce now has his lines and is sticking to them, when it comes to how he speaks about the climate debate:

We’ve been down this path before – ETS, the single desk, the carbon tax debates. The Nationals are well-versed in this. We’re not concentrating on that.

We’re concentrating right now on one thing. That’s making sure we look after regional people – they send us to Canberra, they have their concerns, they’re conveying it to our office loud and clear, and we are making sure they have a time to be heard and a time for us to give our best endeavours to make sure their best concerns are dealt with.

The Nationals are going through that process. People are aware and we want to make sure we get to a conclusion to make sure that we can go back to our electorates and say, “These were the concerns you conveyed to us. And this was the valid attempt we put towards trying to make sure that those concerns were dealt with.”

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22:42

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22:41

Another entry in the “MPs treating the register of interests as a joke” cabinet:

Kishor (@kishor_nr)

Matt Canavan was gifted a mounted piece of the first coal extracted from the Adani Carmichael mine according to his register of interests pic.twitter.com/wFC4jtJe6S

October 18, 2021

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22:39

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Australians believe federal and state governments have not collaborated well during the pandemic, according to a new poll.

That is the result of an Ipsos FastFacts poll of 1,000 Australians designed and commissioned by the McKinnon prize in political leadership.

The result of the poll was released on Tuesday to mark the opening of nominations for the award, which was established in 2017, when Liberal senator Dean Smith was its inaugural winner.

Previous winners include Labor Senate leader Penny Wong (2018); former NSW premier Gladys Berejkilian (2019), who is now being investigated by Icac; and health minister, Greg Hunt (2020). The award also has an emerging leaders category, which was won last year by Labor MP Anne Aly.

2021 McKinnon prize ambassador Amanda Vanstone said:

The formation of the national cabinet signalled the desire for collaboration across federal and state governments to manage the pandemic together and support all Australians. However, as the pandemic affected different states in different ways, and citizens and commentators began to apportion the blame on different leaders, our federation splintered along state and party lines, which presents a real challenge for elected leaders.

Another prize ambassador, Simon Crean, said:

We know that Australians are generally supportive of national cabinet, but they don’t see it working … With Australia facing immense challenges at home, in our region and the wider world, it’s more important than ever that we have courageous and visionary leaders. We need leaders who are able to respond to crises with urgency and articulate a vision to lead the nation through its recovery over the next decade.

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22:39

Queensland has announced its roadmap to reopening its borders to hotspot states in time for Christmas – making it the first Covid-free state to do so.

That has left some Queenslanders “scared” because of the lower than the national average vaccination rates and the inevitability of an outbreak, once border lockdowns are a thing of the past.

The state is pushing a massive vaccination program now, telling people who haven’t got the vaccine, it is now time – the state is opening. That’s particularly relevant for regional areas, which are behind Brisbane and the more urban areas of the south-east.

Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke to ABC News Breakfast this morning and said there was no need to panic:

They shouldn’t be scared. Let me tell you – look, my job has been – and I’ve said fundamentally – to keep them safe. We have weathered this pandemic. Queenslanders, they step up and they do everything that they are asked to do.

We’ve done natural disasters, we’ve been through cyclones, we’ve been through floods – you name it up here, we’ve all worked together.

Now, this is like weathering the next cyclone. So what I’m saying to Queenslanders is – now is the time to get ready and be prepared. Now is the time to make sure you get vaccinated. And we will weather this storm together. Absolutely we’re in this together.

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22:14

Keith Pitt is not in a happy place, at least judging from this interview. He’s a no to net zero (at this stage) and has been for some time. He doesn’t sit in cabinet. (When Barnaby Joyce came back as leader, Pitt kept his portfolios but was booted from cabinet and moved to the ministry – so the Coalition government moved resources out of the cabinet. You could imagine what would have happened if a Labor government did that.) But, as a minister, he does still have to fall into line with what the government wants.

Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo)

McCormack and Chester: set some principles to safeguard regional Australia and do this deal. Pitt on @RNBreakfast right now it’s a no. We’ll take our time.

October 18, 2021

So even though the Liberals led by the prime minister are behind net zero by 2050, with Scott Morrison intending on taking that to Glasgow, Pitt is pretending there is not a decision. But when there is a decision, he will accept the government’s decision. Even though right now, he is pretending there is a choice:

I’m a member of the executive. My position will always be the government’s position but right now that is not established.

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22:03

Resources minister Keith Pitt (who wanted $250bn for the fossil fuel industry transition in exchange for support for net zero by 2050) was on ABC radio RN this morning, where he was asked if he believed in climate change:

The climate’s changing, it’s always changed. Do I think Australia can change the temperature of the globe? If we shut our economy, I don’t think it will make one iota of a difference.

The thing is, no one, even in this conversation, is talking about shutting Australia’s economy. In fact, the Liberals have bent over backwards to talk about how coal is still a huge part of the economy,

Resources minister Keith Pitt. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

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21:46

ACTU calls on Labor to oppose regional trade agreement

Well this is a little interesting; a couple of secret squirrels have just let us know the ACTU has written to the entire Labor caucus asking the party to oppose the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade agreement.

If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry – it doesn’t exactly have a catchy name, and includes a mismatch of about 15 countries from across the 10 Asean states, as well as China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. Myanmar is one of the Asean states involved.

The legislation is in front of the parliament today – the government hopes to have the agreement, which will be the world’s largest trade agreement – ratified by the end of the year.

But the ACTU is urging Labor to vote against it. This letter has gone to all members of the Labor caucus sometime this morning:

Dear Senator or Member,

As you know, this week the Parliament will be asked to pass enabling legislation to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Australian Unions are urgently calling on Parliament to oppose ratification of RCEP in its current form.

Attached is a note outlining just some of the union movement’s concerns about RCEP.

Support for RCEP will legitimise Myanmar’s brutal military dictatorship on the world stage.

It will put local jobs at risk and encourage the further abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.

Ratification of RCEP may also prevent the Australian Government from effectively regulating Aged Care, including by implementing the important recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission.

We urge you to oppose the RCEP enabling legislation when it comes before the Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Michele

(That would be Michele O’Neil, the president of the ACTU.)

Labor’s caucus is also meeting today (Tuesday is the party room meeting), when legislation will be considered.

Trade agreements are always a fraught issue for the Labor party – this is going to make caucus a little more interesting this morning.

Updated

21:32

There has been a little bit of nuclear talk as part of this latest debate – but not too much. Why? Well, Australia has a moratorium on nuclear for one thing. And no one wants the waste in their backyard for another.

It’s also not particularly cost-effective. It’s not a renewable (uranium is finite) and it’s not green. And that’s before you even consider how long it would take to start the industry from scratch.

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21:29

And also worth keeping in mind – the Liberals don’t actually need the Nationals to move ahead with the climate commitments. Nothing is going to parliament (at least at this stage – because we are talking a 2050 plan) which means there’s no danger of people crossing the floor.

Scott Morrison told the Liberal party room yesterday he planned on taking Australia’s commitment to net zero by 2050 to Glasgow as an NDC – a nationally determined contribution – which doesn’t need the parliament either. It’s essentially a pledge which says “we intend to do this”, and makes it a little more official, rather than just a speech. He doesn’t need the Nationals for that either.

Scott Morrison watches Barnaby Joyce during question time in the House of Representatives yesterday. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

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21:25

Don’t expect there to be any resolution on climate today – this is going to drag on for at least the week.

Scott Morrison doesn’t head to Glasgow until the end of next week, so there is a bit of time. We don’t know what the sweeteners the Nationals will be offered to smooth the transition (will it Barnaby Joyce’s vanity projects, like the inland rail to a coal port? Money for fossil fuels? Or regional health and infrastructure before the election?)

That should all be revealed soon.

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21:25

Good morning

Ready for more climate talk?

Because you’ll be hearing a lot of it today. Again.

Despite being one of the governing parties for the past eight years, and being heavily involved in the climate policy wars, the Nationals, led by Barnaby Joyce, have apparently never before considered a net zero by 2050 target. All we heard yesterday was how they needed to take their time to consider it, because it would be “reckless” to make a decision after a four-hour meeting. Four hours and eight years, but who’s counting?

The Liberals and the Nationals are coming together for the first time in six months this morning, in a joint party room meeting, where they will hear more rah-rah speeches about how great the yet-to-be-publicly announced technology roadmap and climate plan is.

In case you missed it yesterday, Scott Morrison told the Liberal party room that it would be cabinet that made the decision about net zero by 2050. Which means that if the Nationals MPs who sit in cabinet aren’t happy with the decision, they should technically resign and head back to what Joyce calls the “corridor of the nearly dead” – the backbench.

When that was raised yesterday, it was dismissed as a hypothetical. But it’s not. You can have splits in the party but not in cabinet – cabinet solidarity is taken pretty seriously. So if the Nationals decide to stay in cabinet, then they have to accept the climate policy and help sell it. Which could make things a little interesting, given some of the rhetoric.

And meanwhile, regional Liberal MPs, including Senator Hollie Hughes, are taking the opportunity to remind the Nationals that the Liberals actually represent more of the regions than their junior Coalition partner – 24 rural and regional Liberal MPs to 21 Nationals – so everything seems to be going fine.

Just remember though, they we are only talking about 2050. The discussion of anything happening in this decade – the interim 2030 target – is off the table. And that is where the international community is at. So while the rest of the world is talking 2030, we are stuck in 2050 – when none of these people will be in parliament. Good times.

Mike Bowers will bring you into parliament through his camera (as well as his network of secret squirrels) and Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Sarah Martin and Daniel Hurst will help make everything make sense.

Amy Remeikis is on the blog with you for most of the day. I am about to make my third coffee. You ready?

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