ANALYSIS

Morrison claims 'underdog' status and again raises no major party's policy - the carbon tax

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre). Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre). Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared himself the underdog for the next federal election while trying to mount anti-Labor, cost-of-living scare campaigns and refusing to budge on lifting his government's emissions-reduction target for 2030.

The federal opposition is also in no rush to outline its new 2030 emissions target and climate policy, promising on Monday to deliver details before the end of the year.

With the next federal election not far off and the leaders firmly appearing in pre-campaign mode, neither major parties appear to be addressing the pointy end of the COP26 Glasgow agreement - that it requests signatory nations "revisit and strengthen" 2030 carbon emission targets before gathering again next year.

Mr Morrison says Australia's 2030 target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from the levels of 2005, was a firm, nay fixed, 2019 election commitment. However, he insists Australia can get there and beyond without a mandatory target.

"We are going to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. That's what we're going to achieve. And that's what actually matters," he said. "What matters is what you actually achieved. And so we're well above our target.

"Our policy is to meet and beat. That's what we do."

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce even denies signing the deal - despite being part of the Morrison government - because he was "not there".

"The Nationals didn't sign it. I did not sign it," he told the ABC. "We are happy with our targets."

Nationals senator Matt Canavan has also declared "we won't do it," when asked about revisiting and strengthening targets.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is accusing the Prime Minister of breaking the Glasgow deal.

"This is a Prime Minister who leads an entire government now that walks away from its own words and its own commitments within 24 hours," he said.

"Why is it that when it comes to Scott Morrison, what he says yesterday doesn't matter today?"

Campaigning in western Sydney, Mr Morrison launched another broadside at the opposition over its climate policies, alleging - without detail - that Labor was only keen to tax Australians to keep emissions down.

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The Prime Minister even pointedly raised the topic of a carbon tax as something his government was not doing.

It was confirmed in 2017, by people who were at the highest levels of the former Abbott Coalition government, that a Labor carbon tax never existed - rather it was a label used due to brutal retail politics.

It is also not current Labor policy, and the ALP is yet to unveil the bulk of the climate policy it will take to the next election.

Mr Albanese is promising to deliver Labor's climate policy soon, but not straight away. All we know is that it will be "more ambitious".

"Well, we will have our policy announced before the end of the year," Mr Albanese said.

"A range of positive initiatives that we will continue to roll out to supplement the commitments that we've already made."

Still, he refused to say how Labor would deal with the demands of Glasgow, only to say, "Labor will always engage with the world and will punch above our weight."

It was put to Mr Morrison by journalists on Monday that the government's $20 billion technology package, which is the bulk of the "Australian Way" to try to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, is a taxpayer-funded carbon abatement program - and so is a significant cost to taxpayers.

But the Prime Minister didn't buy the idea that that was a de facto carbon tax: "We're not putting a tax on Australians to do that. Not at all."

In the de facto campaign that has kicked off now that COVID-19 lockdowns are easing, the lines are sharpening. And repeating.

"I think Australians have had a gutful of governments telling them what to do over the last couple of years," Mr Morrison said.

"And our approach going forward, to secure our economic recovery, is not to tell businesses what to do, not to tell customers what to do. Our plan is to ensure that they can take the lead, that their choices take the lead. The Labor Party loves telling people what to do. And the only thing they like doing more than that is taxing."

Another flag to the tax that Peta Credlin said never was.

Asked if he regarded himself as "the underdog at this election", he said, "Well, I think that's fairly clear.

"And I've been there before, on more than one occasion."

The Prime Minister digs in again.

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This story 'Underdog' Morrison again raises the carbon tax that never was first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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