Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he is open to “sensible” changes to the government’s climate reform, but will not buckle under pressure from the Greens to increase reduction targets.
Mr Albanese said he was not open to lifting targets at all, even if it would guarantee support from the Greens to enshrine it into law.
“We’re happy to consider any sensible amendments that can improve legislation,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.
“Can I tell you what we’re not happy to do, to be very clear, is to change the issue that we have a mandate for, which is 43 per cent reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050.”
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Mr Albanese defended his government’s refusal to budge on the target, saying the Australian people gave his party the mandate.
During the federal election campaign, Labor promised a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030.
“We announced it at the beginning of December, more than five months before the election, and that is what the Australian public expect us to support,” Mr Albanese said.
“I’ve seen the movie, whereby you have a government that says one thing before an election and something different afterwards, and I know how it ends, badly.
“It ends with a decade of inaction, which is what happened during the last decade.”
Greens Leader Adam Bandt is set to begin negotiations with the government on its climate bill.
Opposition spokeswoman Anne Ruston said Mr Albanese was bringing forward “completely unnecessary” legislation.
“We’ve always been very clear … we support a clean energy future,” Senator Ruston told Sky News.
“But we believe that if we’re going to have a clean energy future and we’re going to reduce emissions, we’re not going to do it in a way that low-income earners are significantly impacted.”
Labor holds 26 seats of the 76 in the Senate, short of the 39 votes needed for a majority to pass legislation.
NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg may still cross the floor on legislating a climate target when parliament returns on Tuesday.
“I’m open-minded about the legislation, as you would expect me to be,” he told Sky News.
“It is clear that in Melbourne and Sydney, where we lost a lot of seats, that people do want to see the Liberal Party lock down a clear policy on emissions reduction.”
A number of Liberal MPs in the nation’s two largest cities, including former treasurer Josh Frydenberg, lost their seats to the so-called teal independents, who campaigned on strong climate action and a national anti-corruption watchdog.
Senator Bragg said it was his job, and that of all parliamentarians, not to “hide behind their party all the time”.