OPINION

Joyce: Net-zero deal has greater protections for farming, mining

FUTURE: Pipes used in phase one of the Dungowan Dam pipeline project. Picture: Peter Hardin
FUTURE: Pipes used in phase one of the Dungowan Dam pipeline project. Picture: Peter Hardin

Politics is a tough game and anyone who stands at a pre-selection clearly understands it can be football in a suit.

The Coalition is a business partnership and in the politics of Canberra the Nationals go onto the paddock to fight for you.

In the recent net zero by 2050 negotiations I had a very tough week strengthening an agreement so as to get further protections and benefits for you.

The process was that members of the Nationals wanted the final say on a deal that was so important to their constituents.

It was not going to be the leadership group of the Nationals, nor me as Leader, that would make the final decision on the negotiations I had with the Prime Minister and the outcome that was achieved, it would be the view of the party.

With greater protections for farming and mining, further investment in infrastructure, greater opportunities and, most importantly, not tying our nation to legislation that prohibits actions within our economy and by our people, the room made the decision that the deal should go forward. Net zero by 2050 is a deal that brings about a goal, not a legislative railroading of our economy and you.

I saw the comments by journalist, Paul Kelly in the Australian, saying I was "two faced" because we brought about an outcome that even his masthead has changed its position on and now supports. I say, what was the alternative Mr Kelly? Not agree, have resignations, blow up the Coalition, have an election and lose government, and allow the Labor Party to come in with their legislated targets with no plan behind them.

For my part it was important that I made sure in the process, which was going forward either with or without us, that we negotiate the protections we did. The Prime Minister was still going to Glasgow whether the Nationals agreed or not.

In staying in government, which I believe was the wish of those who voted for me, I can continue to build Dungowan Dam, continue to build the Inland Rail, continue to fix roads. As a government we can build further dams, protect markets and keep a rudder on our economy as we come out of a period dealing with the COVID pandemic.

Whether it is the completion of the Bolivia Hill realignment, an expansion of a full-again Chaffey Dam, the Northern Inland Centre of Sporting Excellence, bridges, mobile phone towers, tennis courts and small hall upgrades, or the completion of all the works for Quipolly Dam, the benefits of being in government can be seen everywhere and in every corner of our electorate of New England. New England is not going to give that away.

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We now have record beef prices, lamb prices, mutton prices, goat prices and coal prices for our nation. As the price of land has appreciated so has the wealth of families, as have all those associated with these things. For once we are making a decent dollar and I don't want to do anything to botch that up.

For Nationals representation in Cabinet, all the way back to post-World War II, we have never cracked more than five Cabinet Ministers - but that is what we have now. That means regional Australia has never been better represented by the Nationals at the decision table of Government. As far as money flowing to our regions goes, we have never had more representation in the Expenditure Review Committee to sign the cheques than with myself and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Bridget McKenzie.

I am happy with what we have negotiated, but it is not for us - it is on your behalf.

The plan to better our future continues. There are more roads we need to seal including the third sealed road across Australia connecting Cairns to Perth, the Outback Way. We are well down the track in this ambition.

We will receive the business case for the construction of the Hells Gate dam north-west of Charters Towers early next year. This is a very expensive, crucial piece of infrastructure to move water from the wet tropics to the dry black soils of Western Queensland.

You can't do anything by ranting wishes at the Parliament House coffee shop, you have to be where the decisions are made. That is where I am and on your behalf that is where I will endeavour to stay.

  • Barnaby Joyce is the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Nationals Party.
This story Nats blow final whistle on net-zero plan first appeared on The Canberra Times.