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A net-zero target means net-zero development

By Matthew Canavan - posted Friday, 5 November 2021

A few weeks before the 2019 election, some publicans were having a beer over dinner in the small town of Clermont. They were discussing a front-page story that day, which reported that some people, in the "Bob Brown, Stop Adani" rally, had called Queenslanders rednecks and Nazis.

They resolved to act. They agreed not to serve the greenies and Kel Appleton started organising a counter rally at his pub, the Grand Hotel.

The rest is history. Bob Brown was seen by Queenslanders as a "Mexican" lecturing us, while hypocritically travelling around in a diesel-fuelled convoy. The Coalition won an unexpected victory on the back of a swing in Queensland three times the national average.


Now the people who helped us feel betrayed by our net-zero conversion. Kel wrote on Facebook this week that he had been "lied to and let down". Not only have we failed to dance with the people that brung us (although admittedly it would take a lot of rums for me to dance with Kel), we have been seduced by the siren song of cheap, green politics.

Net-zero emissions can only be achieved in one of two ways. Either the government taxes, punishes or just simply bans people from doing high-carbon-emitting things, or people just start reducing their carbon footprint without any compulsion. If it is the latter, why does the government need to do anything? If it is more likely the former, as night follows day, net-zero emissions will mean more red tape and more taxes.

That has certainly been the experience overseas. Britain is trying to get to net zero and to do so it is banning cars, heaters and it even wants to regulate meat eating. According to the UK Treasury this week, to reach net zero, Britain will need a carbon price of $295 per tonne – 10 times the size of Julia Gillard's carbon tax.

How has the party of small government signed up to support big government? The best answer you get is that it is better for us to be in control of the move towards more and more intrusion into people's lives. These people are Fabian greenies; they have surrendered to the idea socialism is inevitable but it will be better if we move towards it slowly.

Is the point of the Liberal and National parties to deliver Labor and Greens policies but just at a slower pace?

Now some argue everything will be fine because new industries will be invented that will replace the jobs of today. Many Australians used to be employed in the wool industry, they say, and now they are employed in mining and other industries.


But the mining industry did not emerge from Canberra. We didn't tax sheep to invent the Jameson cell, and we didn't ban blade shears to invent mechanical ones.

A Liberal-National Party government should strive for more jobs, not just different jobs. A net-zero emissions target will mean net-zero economic development for our nation.

This will leave Australia poorer and with fewer opportunities than we should have. We remain a nation with untapped water, agricultural and mineral resources. But a net-zero emissions target puts a shallow ceiling over our heads, limiting the reach of our grasp.

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This article was originally published in The Australian on 26 October 2021.

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About the Author

Matthew Canavan is a senator for Queensland.

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