HomeBridget McKenzie says Nationals party room ‘like a fight club’

Bridget McKenzie says Nationals party room ‘like a fight club’

The Nationals position on net zero has triggered extraordinary scenes in the Senate.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has likened the party to “fight club”, as she came under fire in Senate Estimates hearings over her party’s position on net zero.

During a fiery back-and-forth between Senator Murray Watt and Senator McKenzie on Monday, Senator McKenzie repeatedly maintained she could not discuss cabinet going-ons, despite circling questioning from the Labor senator.

It comes a day after the Nationals confirmed they had agreed to a net zero by 2050 goal, on the condition that rural and regional Australians would be looked after.

As part of coalition negotiations, a new cabinet position was created for the Nationals, filled by Keith Pitt on Monday.

While asking Senator McKenzie whether the Nationals still maintained a view that the party believed electric vehicles would “end the weekend”, Senator Watt probed whether it would be part of a cabinet submission relating to net zero.

Senator McKenzie said the pair could go “round and round the mulberry bush” on this question.

“This is now a decision for cabinet. As a cabinet minister, I’ll be respecting the process. I ask you to do the same as a party of government,” Senator McKenzie said.

Senator Watt questioned whether or not the Nationals party still held that view, and whether Senator McKenzie was suggesting there would be a cabinet submission.

“I’m not suggesting anything … That would actually not be the right thing to do,” she said.

“Am I going to tell you what’s in a cabinet submission? Hmmm, tough.

“The first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club.”

Senator Watt said it was “surely” true the Coalition was a fight club.

The fiery back-and-forth came as the Coalition looks to firm up a net-zero by 2050 policy that Prime Minister Scott Morrison can take to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next week.

The Nationals revealed on Sunday they agreed to support “in principle net zero by 2050”, but Labor, including Senator Watt, are looking for assurances as to what the government’s position is and how Australia’s emissions future will be represented on the world stage.

“As we’ve made clear, we support in principle net zero by 2050,” Senator McKenzie told Estimates.

“We want to make sure rural and regional Australia is protected as we move towards a low emissions future.

“ … Now we head into the Cabinet process …”

Senator McKenzie also confirmed the Nationals did not support more ambitious 2030 targets, which were also discussed in the Environment and Communications Estimates Hearing.

Jo Evans, a deputy secretary in the department of industry, science, energy and resources department, confirmed the 2030 targets, which were set at COP21 in Paris in 2015, would not change.


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