Menu Close
Mick Tsikas/AAP

Dutton won’t announce medium term emissions targets before election – Albanese says that’s walking out of Paris

Peter Dutton has taken a further controversial step in his climate change policy, indicating a Coalition government would only announce its medium term emission reduction targets after the election.

Dutton on Tuesday reaffirmed the opposition was committed to the net zero by 2050 target, and emphasised it had no intention of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “no 2030 target means  walking out of the Paris agreement. That is very clear.”

Recommitting to the 2050 target, Dutton told a news conference: “In terms of the targets otherwise, we’ll make those decisions when we’re in government.

"We are not going to do things that hurt Australians. […] We’ll look at the prevailing economic conditions after the next election, and we’ll make announcements in due course.” He said the progress to the 2050 target did not need to be linear.

Australia already has a 2030 target under the Paris agreement – set by the Albanese government – of reducing emissions by 43% (on 2005 levels). It has to submit a target for 2035 early next year.

Dutton last week said Australia’s 2030 target was unachievable, in  comments that prompted speculation that a Coalition government would seek to leave the Paris agreement. While scotching that, Dutton’s latest remarks put more doubt over what would be the Coalition’s policy.

Liberal moderate senator Andrew Bragg danced around the issue when questioned on Sky about Dutton’s position. “Most people who look at this closely will look for two key points. Are you in Paris? And are you in for net zero 2050? And the answer to both questions is yes. The rest is noise,” Bragg said. He also said, “what we do for 2040 and the other years in between 2050 – that will be announced, I’m sure, before the election”.

Albanese said Dutton’s position would leave Australia standing with Libya, Yemen and Iran. “That is not the company that Australia should want to keep.

"We know that the consequences of that for our relationships in our region and around the world with our closest allies will be ones that are regrettable, to say the least.”

Pointing to Bragg’s rather different position, Albanese said it was clear there hadn’t been any proper process to determine the Coalition’s policy. He said instead of chasing new investment in new industries  with new opportunities and new jobs, Dutton was chasing them away. “Peter Dutton is afraid of the future,  and therefore he cannot seize the opportunities  which are there.”

The teal MPs continue to seize on Dutton’s hardening climate position to attack him.

Kylea Tink, MP for North Sydney, said Dutton’s plan to ditch Australia’s current 2030 target “is bordering on criminal”.

“The dangerous captain’s call […] would see a Coalition government effectively pull Australia out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

"Peter Dutton’s promise to renege on Australia’s 2030 climate targets is anti-science, anti-jobs and anti-climate action.

"Reneging on our 2030 target will leave Australia a pariah on the international stage, and will result in higher energy bills for Australian families and businesses, the loss of thousands of future-ready jobs, threaten our economy and ultimately lead to higher climate pollution,” Tink said.

Dutton was dismissive of the teals. “Some of the teals – Monique Ryan and Sophie Scamps – they will vote with Labor because they’re Greens, they’re not teals,” he said.

The Australian Industry Group on Tuesday cast doubt on whether the 2030 target would be met.

“We have supported Australia’s interim emissions targets as a guide path and glide path to meeting the global Paris Agreement goal to limit further climate change,” Ai’s CEO Innes Willox said.

“Australia’s current 2030 target is in the balance – we are tracking in broadly the right direction and we have the tools to get it done, but it’s looking more unlikely that Australia will build the new assets we need fast enough to meet the full 43% by 2030,” Willox said.

Tasmanian federal Liberal to bail out at election

Dutton has suffered a blow in Tasmania. Differences between the Liberals’ two Tasmanian federal MPs have ended with one, Gavin Pearce, the member for Braddon, carrying through his threat not to recontest his seat.

Last year Pearce was reported as telling colleagues he was withholding his nomination for the seat to force the party to block Bridget Archer from recontesting the adjoining seat of Bass.

Archer, a prominent and outspoken moderate, has been critical of a number of opposition positions and has frequently crossed the floor. But Dutton has given her licence, not wanting to risk her defecting to the crossbench.

Pearce said in a statement he had decided not to recontest “following much deliberation and consideration”. He made no mention of his political differences with Archer. Pearce has held Braddon since 2019. The seat is on an 8% margin and he received a substantial positive swing in 2022.

Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald reports New South Wales senator Hollie Hughes has lashed out at shadow treasurer Angus Taylor, blaming him for her loss in the recent Senate preselection, when she failed to secure a winnable place on the ticket.

Taylor, from the conservative faction, provided a reference for conservative candidate Jessica Collins. Andrew Bragg, a moderate, will head the ticket and Collins has a winnable spot.

“This is a message to colleagues that some people’s ambition is more focused on themselves rather than the betterment of the team,” Hughes said.

Premier Li Qiang’s arrives in Australia this weekend

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will visit Australia from Saturday to Tuesday, in the first visit by a Chinese premier since 2017.

Prime Minister Albanese and Premier Li will hold the Annual Leaders’ Meeting in Canberra; Premier Li will also go to Adelaide and Perth. The visit will include Albanese and Li meeting with Australian and Chinese business leaders, and a community event to mark the contribution of the more than one million members of the Chinese-Australian community.

Albanese visited China late last year.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) and Chinese Premier Li Qiang inspect a Guard of Honour during a Ceremonial Welcome at the Great Hall of the People. Lukas Coch/AAP

Asked at his news conference what his message to Li would be about incidents involving the Australian military in the South China Sea and elsewhere, Albanese said the message would be that they were “inappropriate”. He said Li would be “very aware of Australia’s position, which is that Australia was engaged in legitimate international activity.”

Late last year, the Chinese used sonar against Australian navy divers. This year, flares were deployed in the path of an Australian navy helicopter.

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 185,600 academics and researchers from 4,982 institutions.

Register now