The federal government has faced yet another day of questions on its climate policy as the deadline for the Coalition to reach an agreement ahead of a major climate summit draws near.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Tuesday conceded that for all the noise the Nationals had made on the issue, Scott Morrison could make a commitment on net zero without the Coalition’s junior partner.
Mr Joyce told reporters in Canberra that ultimately the Nationals weren’t going to “bully” Mr Morrison on the issue, given he had a mandate.
“That’s the prerogative of the Prime Minister. Once more, we’re not going to start trying to even mimic or bullying the Prime Minister or coercing the Prime Minister,” Mr Joyce said.
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce later claimed he was referring to the Prime Minister’s mandate over the Liberal Party, not the Coalition. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia
“He has his own mandate, and he has his own capacity and that is absolutely and utterly his own right. Quite evidently.”
That mandate was on show when just hours later, Mr Morrison paid no mention of the ongoing infighting over a net-zero target when he addressed his troops at a joint party room meeting.
Later on Sky News, Mr Joyce attempted to clarify his comments, insisting that the mandate was only for the Liberal Party, not the Coalition.
Labor, on the other hand, was at pains to point out the divide, spending much of question time quizzing the government on its climate policy.
Of particular interest was if the government had undertaken any modelling around the economic impact of a net-zero target. Outspoken senator Matt Canavan had claimed the Nationals party room had not been presented with any modelling.
Camera IconMr Morrison said he would be transparent with voters on the impact of net zero. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia
Asked directly about the existence of such modelling, Mr Joyce contradicted his backbench colleague, telling the house the modelling had been shared.
“We have certainly seen the results of modelling. Yes, we have, and we have seen that in a whole range of reflections of the price of commodities,” he said.
Mr Morrison was also questioned why the government had thus far kept the modelling “secret”.
He assured the house the government would be “very transparent” with and release the details ahead of the next election.
“When the government has fully considered these matters we will be setting out all of our plans,” Mr Morrison replied.
Camera IconCabinet is not expected to discuss net zero when it meets on Wednesday. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia
“We will do that before the next election and I suspect we will do it a lot sooner before (Labor) make their mind up about the 2030 commitment.”
The question time fracas followed a series of public statements from Liberals frustrated with their National colleagues for the policy holdup.
While cabinet is set to meet on Wednesday evening, the issue of a climate policy is not expected to be discussed. It’s understood the matter was raised last week.
Earlier, former opposition leader Bill Shorten accused the Coalition of being in the their “own game of Squid Game”.
“It’s become like the Squid Game of Australian politics, except without the nice tracksuits,” Mr Shorten saidInternet Explorer Channel Network