Media conference at Parliament House, Canberra

18 October 2021

QUESTION: Minister, are you concerned if the Nats don't agree to this plan soon, that the Prime Minister will be embarrassed at Glasgow?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No, we're working through this issue pragmatically, understanding what the Prime Minister is trying to achieve. But you've got to understand, we're only presented with a very detailed plan that we hadn't seen before, and to expect us to make a decision within four hours is a little presumptuous. What you need is a calm environment whereby people can understand it and work through it.

QUESTION: Do you acknowledge, though, that if it hasn't- we haven't reached a deal within the next couple of weeks that he will be embarrassed at Glasgow?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, that'll depend on how we're able to have conversations about the detail of this, because that's what our party room is trying to grapple with, is the detail of the plan. And considering they've only seen it for four hours and trying to get their head around, I don't think we're being unreasonable to say we want to get this right. Last time we were done over and we're not going to do it again. We're going to make sure we get it right. We take our time and do it properly.

QUESTION: Are you confident that you can reach an agreement in the next two weeks?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think our party room is being very pragmatic. We're not signing up to anything just yet, but we're being pragmatic enough to understand that this is a global issue that's not going to go away. And we're part of a global community, and we've got to understand that we have to be part of that. But how we do that without regional Australia footing the bill is the question that needs answering.

QUESTION: Was there anything in the plan to ease your minds about the threat to regional jobs?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Look, I think what the plan does show is that we're going to go technology over taxes, and that poses opportunities. But how that overlays into individual communities is the other issue that we've got to understand and grapple with. There could be winners and losers in this, but we've got to understand where they are and who they are and how do we address that. But if you're a coal miner in central Queensland, you shouldn't be shuddering in your boots today. Coal mining will continue for well beyond 2040. The world is still going to take our coal and we may still continue to use it, particularly if we're able to invest in carbon capture storage. So I think everyone needs to take a chill pill, but understand there's a lot of religion in this. But the religious zealots from both sides need to bugger off and let the adults in the room work through the issues.

QUESTION: And what is the hold-up? Is it that there's too much detail to work through or that things are missing that you wanted to see in there?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No, well, it's a complex plan and it relies heavily on technology, and we've got to overlay that into our own communities and understand how that would fit. But there is a lot of comfort in what Angus has done. It's a technology roadmap that isn't taxing anybody, isn't trying to take jobs away, but actually looking to the future to build on what we've got, to keep what we've got as well and make sure that those jobs are there, that energy intensive industries are hopefully protected through new technologies. And that's a good thing and that's what we want to see and understand and appreciate before we sign up.

QUESTION: So what answers does the government need to provide before you're comfortable?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think we'll work through that again today. We're not going to show our hand entirely. There'll be some technical questions that want to be answered by our party room from Angus around some of the technology aspects that have been outlined. But apart from that, we want to see how that's overlaid and there's a lot of work that we'll have to do to understand that. And that's what we're going to work through calmly, methodically over the coming week or whatever it takes. And that's effectively what we're saying. We're not going to be rushed. If you think you're going to rush us, you're going to put us in a corner, and when you do that to Nats, invariably they start swinging back. Just give us the space, give us the air, give us the opportunity and we'll calmly work through it.

QUESTION: And has there been any talk of concessions to get some people over the line in order to get a majority?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: We haven't even started talking about anything in terms of concessions. We've been trying to understand the plan, because our first and foremost responsibility is to protect regional Australians, and that's what we're going to do. So we've got to understand what this plan does and how that overlays for regional Australians. And then if there are adverse effects, then the National Party will be squaring the ledger. We didn't square the ledger last time. We let it slip through our fingers, and I can tell you, we don't care about how long it will take. We'll make sure we get it right, because last time we footed the bill and we're not going to do it again.

QUESTION: How would you describe the nature of the talks so far?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Very mature. I think there's a pragmatism within the room. They understand this is a global problem that's coming at us. It's not of our making, it's not of the nations making, but it's one that we can be part of the solution. And if we can, then obviously as the National Party, we believe that so long as regional Australia isn't penalised but be actually incentivised, then we are prepared to work through the issue. We understand that this isn't going away.

QUESTION: Obviously, this is a plan to commit to net zero by 2050. Would you be open to committing to more ambitious targets by 2030?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, not until you see the details. I mean, you can't recklessly sign up to something without seeing details. The only details that are being presented to the National Party is that for net zero by 2050. And that's what we're working through. Those are the issues that we're working through now, and I think we need the time and the air and space to be able to do that in a constructive manner to get a result on that. Any other proposals would have to be very clearly defined to us before we gave that any consideration.
Too easy. Thanks, guys.