The National’s have reignited a fresh climate change debate within the Coalition, with the release of a manufacturing plan supported by the creation of new coal-fired power stations.
Backbench members of the coalition partner released their ‘Manufacturing 2035’ plan (pdf) and called for local investment into coal and gas-fired power which they believe would reduce Australia’s overall environmental footprint.
“It would be better for the environment for more Australian coal to be used to manufacture goods in Australia, instead of Australians importing manufactured goods from countries that use lower-quality coals,” the report said.
The report noted that the main barrier to strengthening the Australian manufacturing sector over the past decade was Australia’s high energy costs. If Australia could not turn this around, the report warned it could destroy what little hope there is of “increasing investment in Australian manufacturing.”
The report outlines nine points that the party believes would help revitalise the manufacturing industry, promote local economic growth, and decrease the nation’s reliance on imports.
Included in the list is making sure Australia can process its own fibres, direct government support through tax incentives and financial aid for the industrial sector, and the expansion of the Australian oil and coal industry.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who heads the party’s backbench policy committee, claimed the plan would also generate up to 800,000 jobs within 15 years and support the expansion of the manufacturing sectors.
“It is the cheapest way to provide the reliable power needed to support manufacturing,” Canavan said.
The former resources minister noted the plan could benefit working Australians and power prices could be drastically reduced with the construction of more coal-fired power stations.
The National’s backbenchers report also warns that the CCP virus pandemic had highlighted a correlation between the“rising geopolitical tension in our region” and the decline of Australia’s manufacturing sector.
“We cannot allow this trend to continue,” the report says. “Australia will be much better prepared to face further rising tension if the overall position of our manufacturing industry is strong and agile, not just the small part of it devoted to defence manufacturing,” the report noted.
The Nationals manufacturing blueprint could be problematic though for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Following President Joe Biden’s election in the United States, increasing pressure has been mounting on the Australian government to have a stronger stance on climate change with the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling on the Morrison government to use Biden’s election to commit to the same goal.
Biden has committed America to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.