COAL SUPPORT: Senator Matt Canavan, standing near the Stanwell Power Station west of Rockhampton, is determined to protect the resource industry and the interests of his constituents, even if it means voting against the government. Picture: Steve Vit
COAL SUPPORT: Senator Matt Canavan, standing near the Stanwell Power Station west of Rockhampton, is determined to protect the resource industry and the interests of his constituents, even if it means voting against the government. Picture: Steve Vit

Canavan could vote against Prime Minister to support regions

ON the backbench but not intending to take a back seat, Senator Matt Canavan fired a warning shot across the bow of the Coalition Government on climate change and coal.

Unshackled from toeing the party line as the former Resources minister, Senator Canavan previously told The Morning Bulletin he would be prepared to exercise his right as a Nationals Party member to form their own position and cross the floor to vote against the government's legislative agenda on key issues if they were not in the interests of their constituents.

In an interview with Sky News over the weekend, he expanded on his threat, mapping out the issues where the Government could run into trouble from him - namely, making changes to the mining industry, energy and acting too drastically on climate change.

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 11, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 11, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

"I will still forcefully express the views of the people of Queensland, stand up for those views, and things like our great coal industry that's our nation's largest export," Senator Canavan said.

"The fact we still rely on coal-fired power for the vast majority of electricity in this country, the fact that source of electricity is still the predominant source of energy across the world and helps millions of people get out of poverty.

"I'm going to keep forcefully standing up for those things."

While Australia's summer bushfire disaster has created a greater sense of urgency within Coalition ranks for greater action on climate change by reducing carbon emissions, Senator Canavan said he would oppose any increase to Australia's Paris Agreement commitments without "other countries moving" as well.

"I don't think it's right for us to take further unilateral action without other countries moving - that would not seem to make a lot of sense," he said.

While the Federal Government was reportedly exploring a zero net emissions target by 2050 ahead of a UN climate summit in Glasgow at the end of the year (already adopted by Queensland and the United Kingdom), Mr Canavan wrote off the plan off saying it was a ploy "to try and hoodwink people that they might do something".

"I haven't looked at the modelling or costs and benefits of net zero emissions closely because it just seems so fantastical to me," he said.

It seems like the kind of things that governments say, because they're not doing much today but they'd like to try and hoodwink people that they might do something in 30 years time.

"How, as a country, can we commit to net zero emissions in 30 years time, where we'll receive our last diesel submarine in 35 years time? I mean it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense."

He said it was exactly the same as saying "look, I'm going to lose 10 kilos in 10 years' time but I'm not going to do anything about it today, I'm not going to go for a jog, I'm not going to go down to the gym, but trust me, in 10 years time I'll do something".

"It doesn't really sound real to me," he said.

"If every country signed up to net zero by 2050 who are you going to buy the credits from? Mars?"

His view was supported by Nationals leader Michael McCormack who also blasted the target of net zero emissions by 2050 recommended by the International Panel on Climate Change, saying Australia was "not run by international organisations".

Senator Matt Canavan and the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Senator Matt Canavan and the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"The IPCC is not governing Australia. The Liberals and Nationals are," Mr McCormack said in an interview with the ABC.

"We took all of the emissions policies to the election last May and we were re-elected. The Australian people have spoken. We're not run by international organisations. We're run by Australians. We're run by Scott Morrison and we're run by myself.

"Of course you've got to listen to the scientists but what you've also got to do is listen to the workers. Listen to the workers who put on a high-vis vest in a coalmine."



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