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It’s Time for Moderate Liberals to Stand up for Action on Climate Change

Senator Jenny McAllister


In 2019 Mr Barnaby Joyce wrote on his Facebook page:


“One of the few graces of being on the backbench is you can be honest with what your views really are,”


“I believe this is one of the greatest policy phantoms, the misguided and quite ludicrous proposition that Australia can have any effect on the climate. If we could we should be the first to make it rain and, more importantly, stop the recurrence of an ice age anytime in the coming millennium.”


Well those are no longer the views of a humble backbencher. They are the views of the leader of the national party, and the deputy Prime Minister of this country.


And although he hasn’t unveiled a commitment to stop the recurrence of an ice age yet, his opposition to climate change action is on full display.


He has said: “the Nationals have always been opposed to a net zero target...If the Nationals supported net zero emissions we would cease to be a party that could credibly represent farmers”.


I’m not sure how true that is given that the body actually constituted to represent farmers – the National Farmers Federation – supports net zero.


But it certainly is true of Mr Joyce.


"What is this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables going to do to our economy," then-Senator Joyce asked parliament back in 2013.


"If you want zero emissions, nuclear power does it," he said in February.


So, my question to the moderates in the Liberal party is – what are you going to do about this?


Dr Katie Allen, said she would be a ‘strong voice’ in the party room for stronger action on climate change, “I have been and will continue to be a strong voice for Climate Action inside the tents.” “I’m working on influencing that agenda. We need to have higher ambitions to lead the world in renewables."


Will Dr Allen be as strong a voice as Mr Joyce?


Mr Dave Sharma, a man who understands all too well the fury of a liberal electorate who has been betrayed on climate change, has said that Australia:“needs to be acting with a higher level of ambition” and "should be doing more to address climate change".


“We’ve allowed something that should really be a conventional policy challenge to become a kind of culture and values issue. It shouldn’t be the third rail of Australian politics.”

What will Mr Sharma do?


Mr Trent Zimmerman has told Fairfax that "Australians want us to get on with the job of meeting our Paris emissions but looking at what more we can do to reduce our emissions further".


What will Mr Zimmerman do to have the government commit to reducing emissions further than Paris?


That is the challenge for Mr Zimmerman, Dr Allen, Mr Sharma and others like Mr Jason Falinksi, Mr Tim Wilson, Mr Trevor Evans, Ms Cecilia Hammond, Senator Hume, Senator Payne, Senator Paterson, Senator Bragg, and Senator Birmingham.


We know there are liberal leaning voters who believe that humans are responsible for dangerous climate change. Indeed this is the view of the majority of Australians. These voters support real action on emissions.


Moderate liberal parliamentarians have made a commitment to them. They have nodded and winked to them that, and signalled that when the time came they would stand up for their interests.


The Deputy Prime Minister is now a man who is more worried about a coming ice age than global warming.


What will you do to keep your promise to those who have supported you?


Jenny McAllister is a Labor Senator for NSW Twitter Facebook