Cane for Matt Kean as MPs flag emissions change
Moderate Liberal MPs have flagged lifting the Coalition’s 2030 emissions reduction target to more than 30 per cent, as Scott Morrison lashed NSW minister Matt Kean over criticisms of his government’s climate policies.
The MPs, who declined to be named, were buoyed by the Prime Minister’s shift in language since the bushfire crisis and believe mounting pressure to take action on climate change will lead to stronger policies.
Some moderates want the emissions reduction target lifted from 26 to per cent to up to 31 per cent, while others want the government to drop the use of Kyoto carry-over credits to meet its 2030 target.
A number have no issue with the policy settings as long as there are new measures during this term of parliament that show the government is committed to combating climate change. There is no appetite for an emissions trading scheme or a price on carbon, despite some acknowledging it would be the most cost-effective way to lower emissions.
Mr Morrison took aim at Mr Kean after the NSW Environment Minister told Sky News that cabinet ministers were unhappy with the government’s position on climate change. “He doesn’t know what’s going on in the federal cabinet. Most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio.
Federal moderate MPs told The Australian on Monday that Mr Kean’s public intervention was counter-productive in attempting to influence stronger climate policies from the Morrison government.
Mr Morrison said he would this year consider adopting a 2050 target of zero-net emissions, which Labor will likely adopt at its national conference in December. “I would never commit to something like that if I didn’t know what it was going to cost Australians,” Mr Morrison said.
“And what troubles me is that there are plenty of people at the moment who will go out and make a glib promise about that and they can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it’ll mean for their electricity prices, what it will mean for their jobs.”
Some NSW Coalition ministers described Mr Kean’s interview as a disaster for federal-state stability. Others said his observations about the shift of mood in Canberra were accurate.
“It was in the Prince Andrew category of train wrecks,” one ministerial colleague said. “I’ve had federal ministers calling me asking what the f..k the Left in NSW is doing undermining Scott Morrison,” a second NSW minister told The Australian.
Mr Kean did not respond to a request for comment, but colleagues said his commentary used the fig leaf of climate change to attack and disrupt the Morrison government’s agenda. His comments, they said, were a “focused diversion” from criticism he and successive NSW environment ministers encounter over the issue of land management and the build-up of fuel loads.
“The thing he said is the ground is shifting in Canberra, and that is just a fact,” said a minister who supported Mr Kean. “There are significant people concerned about it. Their seniority suggests the ground is shifting.’’