OPINION

Nationals policies on climate change 'don't reflect key farming organisations'

DEAL: Nationals members have backed Scott Morrison on net zero emissions by 2050. Picture: Phillip Biggs
DEAL: Nationals members have backed Scott Morrison on net zero emissions by 2050. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Australia is now run by an accountant in a cowboy hat.

On planet politics in Canberra that fella, Barnaby Joyce, has seemingly come to represent our nation's farmers and rural and regional communities.

Scratch the surface, and it's not hard to see why this is simply - to use an appropriate turn of phrase - a load of horse shit.

Firstly, the Nationals in the LNP represent less than 5 per cent of this country's vote.

They have an obscene amount of power and influence beyond their effective representation.

Most Australians now understand when you vote for Scott Morrison you get Barnaby Joyce.

Their policies and positions, especially on tackling climate change, don't reflect key farming organisations like the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and Meat & Livestock Australia.

The powerful NFF was recently ignored when trying to secure a briefing with the Nationals Party during their recent dummy spit over net-zero targets.

The stale, pale and male leader of the Nationals certainly doesn't represent the many dynamic women around the country who work in agriculture, or the innovative young farmers who are the future of this country.

They are also out of touch with farmers who care deeply about the country and protecting the environment.

Groups like Farmers for Climate Action feel abandoned by the Nationals and have formed to fill the void left behind by the toxic politics of self interest in Canberra.

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So how did it get to this point?

Only recently Nationals Senator Matt Canavan said farmers are no longer his party's core constituents. So, who are then?

A not-so-subtle hint is in the coal dust Mr Canavan rubbed on his face recently for his social media photos.

Yes, there is a lot of symbolism in that, it's the mining industry, in particular the fossil fuel industry.

There is more to this betrayal of farming communities than first meets the eye.

By putting the interest of the LNP's fossil fuel donors before farmers, the LNP is not only selling out their political representation of farming communities but also selling out their future.

The best science tells us no one is more at risk than farmers from climate change.

When it comes to the leadership required to act on the greatest challenge of our time, doing nothing risks everything.

Drought, famine, plague, floods, and heatwaves are already a curse to this country, and you can expect this will get much worse unless we act. Really act.

Committing to net-zero 2050 targets, relying on unicorn technologies not even developed, is not action.

It's another betrayal, an insane and profoundly ignorant betrayal that the Nationals are prioritising a future of digging up and burning the exact dirty fossil fuels which will make parts of this country uninhabitable and unproductive in our lifetimes.

Committing to net-zero 2050 targets, relying on unicorn technologies not even developed, is not action. It's another betrayal.

More and more farmers are looking to Green politics as an alternative.

They understand the costs of inaction far outweigh the LNP scare campaigns on climate action.

ABAREs recently estimated climate change costs Australian farmers on average $30,000 a year.

Whereas soil carbon abatement incentives, enhancing biodiversity, renewal energy uptake, and increasing consumer demands for carbon neutral food and products presents significant economic opportunities.

New crops, new cultivars, new technology, and new regional jobs, all while doing the right thing for the earth. Meanwhile LNP policies such as removing the carbon price has cost farmers over $12b in carbon abatement revenues. Now with tariff retaliation via new trade deals on the cards, the costs to farmers from not having a price on carbon will be even higher.

When stopped by a reporter in Parliament House and asked if Australia should commit to net-zero by 2050, Mr Joyce infamously said: "The one thing I can assure you [is] none of us are going to be in this building in 2050, many of us will be dead".

In other words, he doesn't give a stuff about future generations who will inherit the consequences of his short-term politics, self -interest and power games.

For those Australians who have farmed their land for generations, and understand their legacy and responsibility, is this the kind of leadership you vote for?

Perhaps a simple political target first necessary to achieve meaningful climate action is "Net Zero Nationals in our Federal Government by 2022".

That's what I will be campaigning on.

  • Peter Whish-Wilson, Greens Senator for Tasmania.
This story Nationals are all cowboy hat and no cattle first appeared on The Canberra Times.