The leadership spill within the federal National Party has given quiet Australians a megaphone.
The re-elected Barnaby Joyce, who has returned to the deputy prime ministership, said that the spill was “about the people of Australia”.
It’s understandable why Joyce said this; much like the Australian people, the Nationals have been dragged towards a net zero target against their will by a Liberal Party that has taken them for granted.
At the last federal election, the so-called climate election, Australians spoke loud and clear: they flatly rejected radical climate policies.
Mainstream Australians view their jobs and the prosperity of their families as far more important than abstract commitments to reduce carbon emissions made by global elites in Paris and Davos.
But since the election, the voices of quiet Australians have been largely ignored as Scott Morrison has unofficially signed Australia up to a net zero emissions target.
In January last year, the Prime Minister said that people who commit to net zero “make a glib promise” and that “they can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it will mean for their electricity prices, what it will mean for their jobs”.
But as 2021 rolled around it was almost as if the Prime Minister had lost touch with the quiet Australians he praised after the 2019 election.
He started to talk about a net zero emissions target, and in January this year admitted that he would like to see Australia reach net zero emissions as quickly as possible, and preferably by 2050.
As Institute of Public Affairs research released earlier this year showed, a net zero emissions target would put up to 653,600 Australian jobs at direct risk.
These jobs are overwhelmingly concentrated in regional areas where workers rely on the manufacturing, mining, and agricultural industries.
A net zero emissions target will devastate these industries along with the regional communities where they play a central role in supporting workers and their families.
Our analysis found that in Barnaby Joyce’s seat of New England, 15 per cent of all jobs would be put at risk. That’s more than 9600 jobs, and doesn’t include flow-on effects of gutting a regional community and economy.
Importantly, six out of the top ten seats with the most jobs at risk from a net zero target are held by the Nationals.
The Nationals and their constituents would incur the greatest costs of a policy promoted by a small group of Liberals in the inner-cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
The Coalition is yet to make a formal commitment to a net zero target because to do so would be a blatant betrayal of the democratic mandate it holds.
The leadership spill was entirely based on the Coalition’s shift towards a net zero emissions policy.
Michael McCormack did not do enough to stop the Prime Minister ratcheting towards it, so the Nationals were forced to act and ensure that the interests of mainstream Australians remain the top priority of the government.
It is somewhat remarkable that it took the National Party to make this change. Evidently, many in Australia’s political class still do not understand the potency of emissions policy.
For the past decade, ever since they were betrayed by the Gillard government who imposed a carbon tax after promising not to do so, there has been palpable anger among Australians about climate policy.
That anger is understandable because it appears no matter how strongly they vote against radical climate policy, they end up getting it anyway.
The political class, and the Liberal Party in particular, still don’t seem to understand that the 2013 election of the Coalition under Tony Abbott was a watershed moment in Australian history.
Abbott promised Australians he would repeal the carbon tax.
That promise secured the Coalition a comfortable 90 seats in the House of Representatives, a number not seen by any party since 1996.
Since the 2013 election the concerns of mainstream Australians have not changed. They care about their jobs, supporting their families and their communities. They do not have time for the Party of Davos and climate alarmism.
The leadership spill in the federal National Party should be a wakeup call to Scott Morrison.
He is the Prime Minister of Gladstone, not Glasgow.