Monday, 18 October 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator McKenzie. Liberal senator Alex Antic has said that net zero by 2050 is 'an absolute folly' and:
There is no way to achieve net zero without costing us jobs, without winding back our economy.
Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree with Senator Antic?
I thank the chamber for giving me a few minutes to catch my breath! Thank you, Senator McAllister, for your question. I think the National Party have been very, very clear on the only thing that is exercising our minds this week and, in fact, on the only thing that's exercised our party room for the last 14 years that this place has had this debate—that is, the impact of our country's climate policy decisions on rural and regional Australia and the people that live there. The poorest people in our nation live out in rural and regional Australia, and when electricity prices go through the roof they are the ones that feel the impact. The transport workers who drive our food and fibre up and down the highways and byways of this nation are the ones slugged by former Labor governments' follies in this area. It was only one political party that stood in the way—
My point of order is on direct relevance. The question went to a quote that was provided by Senator Antic and whether or not the Deputy Prime Minister agreed with that. Senator McKenzie has not really touched that question. I would like her to answer it.
We disagree with your ruling, and we would ask you to reconsider the suggestion that there was a very long preamble as the basis of your ruling. I would ask you to read the Hansard, take account—
Thank you; I appreciate it. I would ask you to reconsider your ruling, so early, to rule out an issue of direct relevance on the basis of a very long preamble. It was not a very long preamble. I reiterate the opposition's point of order as to direct relevance. The minister has not even got close to Senator Antic's quote.
Senator Wong, you did not actually wait for me to complete my ruling. I said there was a long preamble in the form of a quote—if you had allowed me to finish—that contained a particular assertion I believe the minister was being directly relevant to matters contained in the question.
As for Liberal Party senators and MPs—Senator Antic being one of them—and their contributions to this public debate, I have no comment to make. I am, absolutely, prepared to stand by the Deputy Prime Minister's public commentary—and, in fact, the National Party's public commentary—around the debate before the public at this time. It is our whole, sole focus as representatives of the 30 per cent of Australians who don't live in capital cities—our miners, our manufacturers, our farmers and those in our regional capitals—to make sure their interests are served in this place in this debate. That is all we're interested in. That is the only question before us as a party, and that is the thing we are taking very, very seriously.
ator McALLISTER () (): Mr Antic has declared, 'From a personal point of view, I certainly don't have any appetite for net zero.' Does the Deputy Prime Minister think it is reasonable for Mr Morrison to ask the Nationals to sign up to net zero by 2050 when, after eight long years in government, members of his own party room aren't signed up?
Again, I'm not going to reflect on Senator Antic's commentary; someone else in this place can. What we are actually focused on as the National Party is absolutely ensuring that every single policy that our government prosecutes and puts before the people has rural and regional Australia's best interests at its very, very centre. That is absolutely the thing. We are not ashamed to be standing up and saying: 'Hold your horses. Let's not gallop off to Glasgow. Let's make sure that what we are considering as a government has actually gone through the prism of how it will affect the poorest in this country and the most highly energy intensive industries in this country.' You know what? If it wasn't for us, no-one would be raising this. You all would have signed up in a heartbeat. The only one standing up for the regions is the National Party.
With two weeks until the COP26 conference in Glasgow, this morning Mr Joyce refused to rule out sending Mr Morrison to Glasgow empty-handed and without a climate deal. After eight years, three Prime Ministers and 21 energy policies, will the Deputy Prime Minister agree to the Liberal plan on net zero emissions by 2050 before Mr Morrison steps on the plane?
One thing that all National Party MPs, senators, ministers and the leadership group more broadly have made very, very clear is that our party room will be the determinant of what our party room does. I won't be answering a question from the Labor Party in this place and surpassing the supremacy of the party room in determining my actions and the actions of our ministers and our party room more broadly. I think, though, what rural and regional Australians need to understand is the biggest risk to their industries, to their jobs and to their children's future is an Albanese-Bandt government that has no plan and never has had one. It's why, on this question, they do not trust you and they do not trust them. So, for as long as you two are in partnership, you can forget the working class of this country backing you at any election.