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Nationals give key support to net zero emissions

The Nationals have given their conditional support to a policy for net zero emissions by 2050 in a move that has big ramifications before Prime Minister Scott Morrison flies to Glasgow.

National MPs had threatened to quit federal cabinet if Mr Morrison did not agree to their amendments to any climate change commitment.

And after a key meeting of the National’s party room meeting on Sunday afternoon, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said his party would agree to give its support to cabinet’s position, however it would hinge on several key agreements.

He would not comment on the Nationals’ demands or suggestions that he had demanded an extra seat in cabinet.

Nats Climate Change Meeting
Camera IconDeputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce walks to the Nationals Party Room meeting in Parliament House on Sunday. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage. Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Joyce last week delivered Mr Morrison his conditions for his support for the coalition’s policy, with his demands centring around protections for rural and regional jobs and communities.

Mr Morrison was hoping to lockdown the National’s support before he flies to the United Nations’ climate summit in Glasgow which starts next week.

And Mr Joyce said he would agree to the Coalition policy provided their position made allowances for his negotiated settlement with Mr Morrison.

“We are in support of a process going forward that would go towards a 2050 emissions target,” Mr Joyce said in Canberra after walking out of a two-hour meeting with his Nationals colleagues on Sunday evening.

“That’s dependent on what we see in the cabinet submission, the conversations and the agreement between myself and the Prime Minister.

“We made sure we did everything in this place to understand the circumstances and opportunities that are before us and the realities that are before us.

Prime Minister at Qantas
Camera IconThe Nationals’ decision will open the door for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to rubberstamp the Coalition’s position before he flies off to Glasgow. NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi. Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Joyce said he wanted to be sure that regional Australia felt represented, noting many of their supporters had concerns about climate policy, but said the Nationals risked slipping into irrelevance if they left the negotiating table.

“The position regional people are in now is vastly better than they were before we started those negotiations,” Mr Joyce said.

“But there is no way we can deal with those if we are outside the tent.”

However he would not comment on the terms of his demands and batted away questions about whether the Nationals had asked for an additional seat on Cabinet.

“Because I don’t have to mate,” he said when asked why he would not answer questions about his demands.

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