Interview with Peter Stefanovic, Sky News

18 October 2021

PETER STEFANOVIC: National MPs have failed to reach an agreement over climate policy, despite a four-hour marathon meeting last night. Deputy Leader David Littleproud has declared the Nationals won't be rushed on a net zero target, with another meeting to be held later on this morning. David Littleproud joins me live. 
David, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. So no dice so far. What is the sticking point?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, we're still working our way through a very complex plan. You've got to understand much of the party room had only just seen this plan yesterday, and to think that they could make a decision on such a complex plan with so much detail within four hours is a little presumptuous. I think many in the room are being pragmatic. They want to understand the details, overlay that into what it looks like for regional and rural Australia and protecting it, sleep on it and understand it. And we're going to come back and have another talk about it today. But there's no guarantee that we'll get to a position today. I think we're going to work through this as quickly as we can, but we're not going to be rushed into making a decision. We got done over last time and we are the last line of defence for regional and rural Australia, and it's important that we get this right, we get the parameters right and understand that there is an unintended consequences for regional and rural Australia.

PETER STEFANOVIC: So regions aren't getting enough at this point in time?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, we haven't even got to that juncture about quantifying whether there's a significant issue around whether there's compensation. We're working through the details of the plan and then overlaying that, understanding that through the diverse backgrounds that we have in that party room that can work collectively together to understand that and then understand whether there is a pathway forward for the National Party to support this, and we're doing that in a very pragmatic environment.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Does this get sorted within two weeks?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, [audio error] tell you anything, what we're going to guarantee is that we're going to work as hard as we can to understand this. There'll be many questions that much of my colleagues will have, probably today and in the ensuing days, but there's a lot of detail to digest. And this is the thing is it would be reckless for us to simply sign up to that without understanding it and understanding the impacts on regional Australia. And that's why we're going to work calmly through it. We're making a commitment that we're pragmatically going to try and understand this and get to a resolution. We understand this is a problem that's not going to go away. [Audio error]… but this time we'll work through it as quickly as we can just to make sure that regional and rural Australia is protected.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Give us an idea of where the percentages are at the moment, Minister. I mean, how much would you say a for it at the moment and how much of the party are probably not there?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, look, I'm not going to talk about individuals apart from those that have made public statements. And if they make public statements, while I respect that, and so those positions have pretty well been made public. But those that have voiced an opinion in the party room needs to be protected, and that's the sanctity of our party room. So unless they make public statements, I don't intend to comment on individuals own opinions on this matter.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Any chance this splits the Coalition?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No, I think, obviously we're a very- we have a mature coalition. This is obviously something that the Prime Minister understands. It's very difficult for the National Party to work through because it is our communities that paid the bill last time. Where- and while we take comfort out of his statements that regional and rural Australia won't be hurt, we want to make sure that we work through every line of this plan and understand it before we give any commitment to it. And that's all we're doing. We're obviously being mature about that, but you can't be rushed. I mean, this is a complex plan and four hours is not enough to work that through. And that's why we're committing to come back again today.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Will the Nats support any upgrade to 2030 targets?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, not unless we saw something. I mean, the reality is, is we have a commitment, we're living up to that. We have only been asked to work through a 2050 commitment. That's what we are working to. There's been no other detail provided to us, but that would be a very big bridge to cross without any detail. We don't blindly sign up to things. The other mob's already done that, they've already signed up to all these things and haven't even told you how they're going to get there. There is no plan. There is no pathway. We have already started that pathway in terms of a technology roadmap, much of which is already starting to take place, much of which will form part of this plan that's been presented to the National Party.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Why not commit to a higher 2030 target, seeing as we're going to beat it anyway? I mean, we're looking at getting anywhere between 30 and 35 per cent of 2005 levels. So why not just sign up to it?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Because you've got to be honest, and you've got to tell people how you're going to get there, who's going to pay for it. And invariably it's been us in the regions previously, and we want to make sure that there's no unintended consequences. So that's the responsible thing to do. I don't know how other politicians and other parties operate, but in the National Party, we're going to be honest with you. We're going to look you in the eye, we're going to square up with you and going to tell you whether we're going to get there or not, how we're going to get there. Not just blindly sign up to something, that's reckless. That's not how the National Party does their business. We use this thing called common sense, and that's what we're going to continue to use to work through this issue.

PETER STEFANOVIC: David Littleproud, appreciate it. We'll talk to you soon.