Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison

Qld MPs’ backlash to PM’s emissions reduction talk

A ROYAL Commission into the killer bushfire season is necessary, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as he declared the government's climate change policies needed to "evolve" and will "beat' emissions targets.

But Queensland LNP MPs have baulked at the idea of boosting Australia's emissions reduction targets, with one labelling it "pure symbolism at the expense of the economy".

Mr Morrison moved to shut down talk he would consider tougher emissions targets, just hours after seemingly leaving the door open to it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government’s climate policies need to evolve. Picture: News Corp
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government’s climate policies need to evolve. Picture: News Corp

He acknowledged the nation was facing "a new normal", with more severe natural disasters on the way, revealing he will seek more powers to bring in the Australian Defence Force to respond more quickly.

A proposal for a Royal Commission into the fires, including climate policies, operational response and backburning, will be taken to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

Mr Morrison conceded his government's climate policies needed to "evolve" and initially did not rule out increasing the emissions reduction targets.

But soon after he clarified that the climate policies would change within the scope of what he took to the election and would look to "meet and beat" the existing 26-28 per cent reduction target.

"What I'm saying is I'm not willing to put someone's job at risk, a region town's future at risk I won't put up electricity prices to do it or put a tax on them," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to make it easier to call in the Army and Reserves to respond to natural disasters. Picture: Corporal Nicole Dorrett
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to make it easier to call in the Army and Reserves to respond to natural disasters. Picture: Corporal Nicole Dorrett

Any move to increase Australia's emissions reduction targets would set him on a collision course with some of his conservative backbench.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said Australia had already committed to a global agreement.

"To do any more than that is pure symbolism at the expense of the economy," he said.

Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd said Australia was already pulling its weight, while Hinkler's Keith Pitt said the Coalition's existing policies were sensible.

Petrie MP Luke Howarth said he was not opposed to increasing emissions targets, but only if other countries did the same.

"We don't want to put ourselves at a disadvantage to other countries. If we set higher targets than other countries it puts our industries at a disadvantage," he said.

 

 

Mr Morrison said Australia will also need to do more for "resilience and adaptation" to the changing climate.

"Building dams is key to that. Native vegetation management is key to that. Land clearing is key to that. Where you can build homes, is key to that. And that is as much a climate change response as emissions reduction," he said.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said he was not opposed to a Royal Commission, but did not want it used as an excuse not to answer questions.


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