Farmers who have struggled through drought and floods have slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for pitting them against “inner-city lefties” and suggesting they don’t care about climate change.
Speaking at a dinner party hosted by the Business Council of Australia in Sydney’s inner city on Monday, the PM said net-zero emissions would not be achieved in “the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”.
“It will be won in places like the Pilbara, the Hunter, Gladstone, Portland, Whyalla, Bell Bay, and the Riverina,” Mr Morrison said.
“In the factories of our regional towns and outer suburbs. In the labs of our best research institutes and scientists.”
One of Queensland’s major winemakers, Mike Hayes lost nearly all of his 2020 vintage thanks to a combo of extreme weather events and the coronavirus pandemic.
He said Mr Morrison’s comments were appalling.
“He gives the impression the people who care are only in the cities and not in the regions,” Mr Hayes told The New Daily.
“As farmers, we fight year in and year out, and what we’re seeing is the exacerbation of extreme weather events.
“It’s an appalling comment from the PM. He owes the people in the country an apology.”
He said the Prime Minister should stop using language that divided the country, and instead start acting on climate change.
“There is no such thing as city versus bush. There is only one way forward, and that is to unify,” he said.
“We need to unite and stand up and fight for our future as an important farming country.”
David Chadwick is a beef cattle farmer from Coonamble in New South Wales.
He labelled Mr Morrison’s speech “a joke”.
“I think it is deplorable he pits regional Australia and the cities against each other,” Mr Chadwick told TND.
“Rural Australians understand climate change and I think the last drought highlighted the inner cities’ compassion for rural Australia, in the way people responded.”
Mr Chadwick said it was interesting that many of the towns the PM mentioned are reliant on mining.
He accused Mr Morrison of being “dictated” to by the fossil fuel sector.
“Rural Australia, which is on the front line of climate change, is experiencing more and more extreme weather events,” he said.
“We’ve had a drought, we’ve seen floods, fires, increases in temperatures – and a government completely obsessed with fossil fuels.
“This government, its masters are the fossil fuels sector and the gas sector.”
The government’s gas-fired recovery is putting farms such as his in jeopardy, he said.
Rob Price owns The Raccoon Club in Melbourne’s inner north.
The venue is everything Mr Morrison referenced in his speech – frequented by a progressive crowd, it’s famous for its “no d—head policy”.
But Mr Price says his bar has done more for the environment than the PM ever has.
“[Mr Morrison] has done nothing for years and now all of a sudden he’s championing climate change,” Mr Price said.
“He’s ignoring the ‘act locally, think globally’ approach. What we do is we get only Victorian beer, we use Victorian wines, where possible we use Aussie spirits.
“Our cleaning products, garbage bags – everything is biodegradable and non-toxic. It costs us extra money to do that.
“All the Prime Minister is doing is causing a distraction.”
He suggested if the government really cared about climate change it would invest in renewable energies.