Riverina MP Michael McCormack has not committed to a net zero emissions proposal put forward by a fellow Nationals member as the party attempts to reach a consensus on climate change policy.
Federal Minister for Regionalisation and Nationals Senate leader, Bridget McKenzie, this week outlined a potential policy whereby investment in renewable energy and carbon emissions prevention would be prioritised for regional areas.
Senator McKenzie also suggested that the government would retain the ability to pause climate policy if it created financial hardship for regional Australia.
Nationals Party MPs and senators met this week to discuss adopting a net zero carbon emission policy and are due to meet again this Sunday.
Mr McCormack, who in his time as Nationals leader called for agriculture to be exempt from emissions targets, said the party would come to a position that would not hurt regional areas.
"The proposal set out by Minister McKenzie has merit, but it is very much at this stage a personal opinion and not Nationals' policy," Mr McCormack said.
"As good, pragmatic parties do, Nationals' members will continue to discuss all facets of this important issue and come to a position which will not hurt regional economies and affect regional jobs."
The federal government is waiting on the outcome of the Nationals meeting on Sunday to shape a policy to take to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow later this month.
Riverina Labor Duty Senator Deborah O'Neill said the the region was suffering due to divisions within the government on climate policy.
"There are enormous untapped job opportunities associated with climate action.
"Yet the Riverina community is being held back because we've had years and years of division inside the Liberal National Party when it comes to climate," she said.
"This week after eight long years in government, three prime ministers and 21 energy policies, this incompetent Liberal-National government had a meeting with themselves to try and find a policy."
Lead Greens candidate for Wagga council Jennifer McKinnon said she supported some of Senator McKenzie's suggestions.
"Guarantees for renewable energy industries is a really good suggestion; we have already got renewable energy zones at Tamworth and to some extent in Wagga," she said.
"Putting pauses on climate action is a really bad idea, if we find that we are not quite as successful, we need to find other ways, but a pause will send us backwards in a world looking for net zero emissions with or without us."
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