Greens claim petitioning National party for net zero policy a zero-sum game

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday October 13, 2021

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson has warned the National Farmers Federation that appeasing the National party is 'a fool’s game’.
Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson has warned the National Farmers Federation that appeasing the National party is ‘a fool’s game’. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens spokesperson for agriculture, has warned the National Farmers Federation (NFF) that appeasing the National party was ‘a fool’s game’, ahead of their meeting to brief the country’s political party. 

As previously reported by The Mandarin, the federation hoped that a meeting on Monday with some government members would lead to farmers being compensated for land-clearing laws implemented in the 1990s which ultimately contributed to Australia’s Kyoto commitment targets

But Whish-Wilson claimed that the current state of play demonstrated a lack of government policy support to the agricultural sector on the part they can play in reducing carbon emissions. He added that there was also a lack of information or education about the effectiveness of carbon farming techniques. 

“With the right policy settings and investment, agriculture is one of the few industries that can become not just carbon neutral, but carbon positive,” the senator said ahead of the NFF’s planned briefing session with federal politicians from the Nationals.

“Now is a dangerous time to be distracted from the real climate action needed to support farmers. The NFF needs to hold the LNP to account.”

The federation told the government representatives at their meeting this week that they also wanted an ‘economy-wide approach’ to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The NFF also raised with the government representatives the need for a better understanding of soil carbon, how new technologies investments can reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock, as well as redressing its ‘statutory theft’ claim. 

“Australian farmers are world-leaders in the adoption of new technologies and innovation, there is no reason to expect it will be any different in this context, but it has to make economic and production sense,” NFF president Fiona Simpson said. 

Senator Whish-Wilson argued that without government action to price carbon, demand for the carbon drawdown was limited and that farmers would put off implementing carbon farming techniques. He added that carbon sequestration on its own was not enough to address the cost burden farming families faced due to climate change. 

“The Nationals have admitted to no longer representing farmers and their anti-climate ideology is utterly offensive to farmers facing the real-world impacts of climate change, which is currently costing the average Aussie farming family $30,000 a year,” the Greens senator said. 

“There are huge opportunities for Australian farmers to change their practices, regenerate their land and create new revenue streams by selling carbon abatement to the carbon market; just like they did before the carbon price was abolished.”

Meanwhile, in Western Australia, the representatives of the mining sector are planning to meet for the inaugural net-zero emission missing conference hosted by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia’s (MRIWA). More than 120 delegates are expected to attend the forum on Wednesday, with a view to working out how mineral resources can support the state’s energy transition by lowering energy costs and lifting efficiency. 

Bill Johnston, WA’s minister for mines and petroleum, and energy, said that the state’s mineral reserves could support the resources needed for wind and solar power generation, electric vehicles and battery storage systems. 

“Positioning Western Australia as a world-leader in net zero-emission mining will ensure we continue to be a preferred global supplier and a sought-after investment destination,” Johnston said. 

The WA state government has backed the MRIWA’s minerals research work over the next four years with $6 million funding and also invested another $1 million to investigate the viability of a local green steel industry. It has also established an energy industry development team with work alongside local manufacturers of renewable energy to accelerate the transition of remote mine sites to renewable energy.


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