The National Party is ignorant, misleading and divisive on climate change – and, to its peril, woefully out of touch with its constituency, the “wonderful people”, as leader Michael McCormack calls them. He means the farmers, many of whom would be hurt by the Nationals’ attempt to exclude agriculture from any commitment – still only a “preference” for Prime Minister Scott Morrison – to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
In recent days, McCormack, reflecting earlier remarks by his leadership rival Barnaby Joyce, said: “We are not worried, or I’m certainly not worried, about what might happen in 30 years’ time.” As if we can wait until 2049 to address the climate crisis. Joyce has gone further, claiming: “If the Nationals supported net zero emissions we would cease to be a party that could credibly represent farmers.”
McCormack’s specific reason for exempting agriculture? “We are not going to hurt those wonderful people that put food on our table.” This suggestion is actually divisive within the Nats, but his exiled former cabinet ministers, Joyce, Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie (the “disgruntled triumvirate of exes”) oppose any emissions deadline that doesn’t exempt agriculture, mining and manufacturing.