Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has dismissed suggestions the Nationals are dictating climate change policy ahead of a crucial meeting of the governing coalition’s junior partner.
The Nationals are meeting later on Sunday to discuss Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, before he heads to Glasgow later this month for the United Nations climate change conference.
Energy and Emission Reductions Minister Angus Taylor will address the Nationals meeting, spelling out how the plan will protect jobs and regional communities.
It is not clear whether the Nationals will make a decision whether to endorse the plan at the meeting.
Asked in Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program if the Nationals are dictating climate change policy, Senator Birmingham said: “Certainly not”.
“The government is deciding the government’s climate change policy,” he said.
“We bring together people right across the country to be able to effectively consider all of the implications and issues,
But he said there is no point pretending that some parts of the community are not concerned about the implications of these decisions.
“The important message to them and to those who represent them is to understand other nations are already making these commitments,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Other nations are already making decisions that will have impacts on Australia and that’s why we need to invest and position ourselves to make sure we can take advantage of opportunities and make the transition successfully to protect jobs, to protect regions.”
Former veterans minister and now Nationals backbencher Darren Chester will end his boycott of the party room and attended the online meeting.
“The Nationals party room can’t be looking back wistfully at the 1950s as the good old days, when our communities are looking forward with optimism and purpose to a better future in 2050,” he told Nine newspapers.