2 September 2022
Regions must not be left behind in Labor’s accelerated net zero ambitions
The Nationals in the Senate have urged the Albanese Government to re-commit Australia to a strong regional safeguard mechanism and to guarantee a first tranche of $20 billion in funding for regional Australia to enable impacted areas to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges of a more rapid path toward Net Zero.
In a dissenting report to the Senate committee considering the Government’s Climate Change Bill, Nationals Senators have urged the government to include a “pause clause” based on an independent assessment by the Productivity Commission which would enable the Government to adjust its path toward Net Zero in light of changed circumstances.
The Nationals have also asked the Albanese Government to guarantee funding to regional Australia from the last Budget, comprising more than $20 billion, as a down payment to assist parts of Australia which were most likely to be affected by the decision to proceed with the decarbonisation of the Australian economy.
“In Europe where climate change ambitions are the furthest advanced in the world there is a serious commitment to helping regions affected by the decarbonisation of its economy to the tune of 500 billion Euros.
“European countries are also recognising that events both economic and climactic can also intervene in climate ambitions.
“The Nationals want a practical but fair approach to this debate, and one that is not based on ideology.
“We want a “no person and no place left behind” policy on climate change.
In its report the Nationals said that its agreement to accept a Net Zero by 2050 was predicated on strong caveats.
“These include protecting our natural environment, but also ensuring that regional jobs, regional communities, and regional industries could seize both the opportunities and be supported to overcome the challenges that a path to Net Zero would bring,” the submission said.
The Nationals were proud to successfully deliver a first tranche package for more than $20 billion in the Coalition’s Budget for regional Australia to develop new areas, new industries and to diversify impacted regions and are calling on the Labor Government to keep it in place.
“Regional communities must be encouraged and supported by government to continue to grow and build resilience, legislating a 43% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 without a complimentary package of financial support for affected communities and carbon intensive industries presents a clear and present danger to the welfare of our communities.”
Nationals Leader in the Senate, Bridget McKenzie, said that one of the first actions of the Albanese Government when it came to power was to remove a clause in Australia’s Nationally Determined Contributions to Glasgow that there would be an independent five yearly socio-economic review into the impacts of climate change policy on regional Australia.
Senator McKenzie said this needed to be re-instated as a matter of priority and to assure regional Australia that the Albanese Government was supportive the eight million Australians who lived outside the capital cities.
The four recommendations made by the Nationals in the dissenting report are as follows:
- That an independent assessment (undertaken by a body such as the Productivity Commission) be tasked with performing a Regional Socio-Economic Impact Assessment every five years ahead of but in line with the review and updating of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as required by the Paris Agreement.
- Specifically, this independent assessment, reportable to Parliament, would mandate an Economic Cost threshold or similar, which would enable Australia to pause its climate ambition in the wake of unintended economic and other events.
- That the Australian Government commit to ongoing funding, in line or in excess of the first tranche of more than $20 billion provided for by the Coalition Government in its March 2022 Budget, for regional Australia to enable regions to seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges that its legislated target will bring.
- That Australia pursues improved and more transparent emissions accounting methodologies that better recognise the contribution Australian exports such as fuel and food make to global emission reduction.