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Regional reviews to ensure delivery of net-zero investments

Politics

“Safeguard” reviews and billions of dollars in investments have been agreed by federal cabinet as part of the government’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Productivity Commission would undertake reviews of the economic impact of the policy every five years.

“It will be a safeguard for rural and regional Australia,” he told The Australian on Tuesday, adding it would provide “accountability” for the government’s emissions plan.

“We will track what our emissions are but we will also track what our economic performance is.”

Further details of the net-zero plan will be announced later on Tuesday, ahead of Morrison travelling to the global COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this week.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the plan would involve $80 billion of public and private sector investment between now and 2030.

“We seek to drive that investment into some of the areas of the economy, some of the regional areas that we know will face some of those transition difficulties,” he told ABC radio.

“We’ve been having the right debates as a coalition about how you achieve net zero, while protecting regional communities and jobs, not just the approach of signing up to a target.”

The finance minister said the plan was not static.

“It’s been years in the making, built around the goals that our government had announced,” he added.

“These are the types of things we’ve got to focus on as a nation and a globe and that’s certainly what Scott Morrison will be expressing in Glasgow.”

The government is also expected to release updated emissions reduction projections for 2030, showing a drop of 35 per cent.

The coalition has previously committed to a reduction of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.

In an opinion piece published in News Corp outlets, the prime minister said Australia was on track to beat those targets.

“We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia. The Australian way is about how you do it, and not if you do it,” Mr Morrison wrote.

Ahead of the Glasgow summit starting on Sunday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Australia for its “heroic” 2050 net zero commitment.

Morrison’s emissions plan follows a deal between the Liberals and the Nationals to secure the junior coalition partner’s support for the 2050 target.

This includes an extra seat in cabinet for the Nationals, with Resources Minister and Queensland MP Keith Pitt returning to the table months after being demoted.

Despite an agreement on net zero, some Nationals have publicly said they would campaign against the policy.

Queensland senator Matt Canavan warned the target could cost the coalition seats at the next election.

“I’ve heard from lots of people over the past day that they are very upset,” he told ABC radio.

“At the last election, we said that a 45 per cent emissions reduction cut would cost more than 300,000 jobs and put a wrecking ball through the Australian economy.”

Senator Birmingham brushed off concerns about a campaign in key regional seats at the next election due by May next year.

“It’s not unusual in the Liberal Party and National parties that we have people in our ranks who test these propositions,” he said.

“That testing helps make sure we address some of those other concerns.”

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