Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Australia’s Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, leader of the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government, has stated he he will not support any legislation which threatens coal jobs.
Barnaby Joyce’s bizarre climate change comments
September 26, 2021 11:35AM
“It doesn’t sound like you are at all keen on anything that’s going to hurt coal industry jobs,” Insiders host David Speers said on Sunday morning.
“No, no, it’s the little old bush accountant saying that lots of clients have ideas, but if you sit down with them and say, ‘OK, that’s your idea, let’s prudently go about this because otherwise you’re going to get yourself in more strife than the early settlers’,” he said.
He refused to go into detail about discussions he was having with prime minister Scott Morrison about the emissions target, but said the Nationals were “part and parcel” of talks.
“We look at it through the eyes of making sure that there is not an unreasonable loss of jobs or any loss of jobs in regional areas,” Mr Joyce said.
“These people also rely on the Nationals to make sure that we don’t pull the economic rug out from underneath them.”
He highlighted skyrocketing gas prices in the United Kingdom to urge caution and that Australia didn’t want to replicate the “obvious chaos” happening overseas.
“Are you saying there should be no coal jobs lost, is that the bottom line for you?” Mr Speers asked.
“Well, not by reason of domestic policy.”
Barnaby Joyce, despite his occasional odd turn of phrase, is immensely popular in rural Australia. He is one of the few leading politicians who bothers to regularly leave the more densely populated East Coast and cross the Great Dividing Range, spending time visiting and listening to supporters in remote regions of rural Australia, including regions where the local economy is dominated by coal mining jobs.
Barnaby is not opposed to renewables. Barnaby’s support base includes regions where people make money from renewable energy, he supports renewable energy grants which pump money into regional communities.
As junior coalition partners, the Nationals are not the dominant voice in the Australian government. But their political support is indispensable, so they have some influence. Without the support of the National Party, Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not have a majority in Federal parliament.