The dust has finally settled on the federal election and Australia has a new Prime Minister, a new Government and claims for a mandate for a new direction.
While the Liberal Party lost 18 seats (including two LNP seats in Brisbane) - the National Party held all of its rural and regional seats and had swings towards it in two others.
Despite this "success", the Nationals have replaced Barnaby Joyce with David Littleproud as their leader. The reality is that while the Nationals held all of their seats, the Coalition has lost government and while there were several factors at play - climate change was one of the major ones.
Mr Littleproud has made statements that the Nationals need to support Net Zero and support greater action on climate change. Already he has received criticism that he is moving the National Party to the left. But Mr Littleproud has quite rightly declared the Nationals should be the "sensible centre" and there is no point burying our heads in the sand and hoping climate change and Net Zero will go away.
The bush knows full well that when the city wants to do something about the environment - the bush is usually the one who has to carry our load and theirs. But whether we like it or not - Australians have voted for greater action on climate change and we now have a Labor government whose political future relies on them doing something about it. Unless the Nationals respond to what the rest of the country want - they will be left to wander in the political wilderness. But if they simply become another sheep in the flock - they won't have many people left to vote for them let alone who would want to.
This is why it is important that the Nationals and the "sensible centre" still talk about the obvious practical challenges and costs of going 100 per cent renewable. The "sensible centre" asks the questions about how we are going to pay for all these new carbon neutral shiny things without our coal, gas and agricultural industries.
The "sensible centre" asks how we are going to come up with the trillions of dollars required to transform our economy as we enter uncertain and perilous global economic conditions.
The International Energy Agency itself has said that "reaching net zero emissions will require the widespread use after 2030 of technologies that are still under development today. In 2050, almost 50pc of CO2 emissions reductions will come from technologies currently at demonstration or prototype stage".
It seems ludicrous to sign up to an expensive and untested plan on the hope that it might work and it could be replaced by more advanced and feasible technology in the future especially when we contribute only 1pc of global carbon emissions today.
These are all sensible questions and rather than debating the need for more climate action we need to focus on how we are going to solve the problem, how much it is going to cost and who is going to pick up the tab.
We must also ensure that those who voted for more action on climate don't simply push it down the line for those who don't have much say about it - i.e. rural and regional Australia. This is why we need, now more than ever, strong and united rural and regional leadership speaking with one, strong, sensible voice and providing strong doses of common sense to those who advocate for Australia to simply jump off a cliff in hope.
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