ACT Senator David Pocock all but confirms support for Labor’s climate targets

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Independent senator David Pocock has all but confirmed he will wave through the government’s emission reduction target.

The ACT senator said legislating the target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 was a “huge opportunity” but noted he would like the government to consider it a floor, not a ceiling.

“I have been very open saying that I’d like to see a higher target, but my sense is that what Australians really want is a target to be legislated,” he told ABC’s Insiders.

Camera IconSenator Pocock all but confirmed he’d back the targets. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

He said he wanted to see Australia reach the target “with integrity” and welcomed the recently announced review into the nation’s carbon credits scheme.

Senator Pocock, who was arrested for chaining himself to mining equipment to protest a coal mine expansion, noted communities which have “relied on fossil fuels for generations” will need additional support in the transition.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in this space,” he said.

However, the former rugby union star stopped short of confirming if he would shift his position if the 43 per cent left open the door to the opening of new coal mines.

Senator Pocock’s vote could be crucial for the government, who will need to rely on the Greens and a crossbench member for legislation opposed by the Coalition to be successful in the Senate.

The opposition has made it clear it will not support the legislation of Labor’s targets.

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Camera IconJacqui Lambie has indicated she wants the government to go further. Simon Sturzaker Credit: News Corp Australia

Tasmanian firebrand Jacqui Lambie on Sunday also indicated she would fall in behind the government.

“For us, it’s like, what does it look like to put in 43 per cent? Can we go a little bit harder? And if so, what impact is that going to have?,” Senator Lambie told the Sunday Age.

“We want to get it right the first time, and if it means that we can add a little bit more or we need to lose a little bit, that’s what we need to look at.”

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has previously said he would consider “sensible” amendments from the crossbench, but warned Labor is prepared to abandon enshrining the target if it doesn’t have parliamentary support.

“We have also been clear that the legislation is not required and, if the parliament doesn’t wish to pass it, we will simply get on with the job, as we have already started to do,” he told the National Press Club last Wednesday.

Parliament House Canberra
Camera IconMr Bowen laid down the gauntlet to the independents. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The government is expected to face some further push back from the Greens, which have labelled the 2030 target as “weak”.

Earlier this month, leader Adam Bandt slammed the government’s “take it or leave it” approach, but said he would approach negotiations in “the spirit of good faith”.

“I think that kind of hairy-chested approach from the government is what the people have just rejected, and they don’t want these kinds of ultimatums being put to parliament on a take it or leave it basis,” he said.

The government expects to introduce its climate change agenda to parliament when it returns later this month.

Also high on Labor’s agenda is its promise to establish a federal corruption watchdog.

Senator Pocock, who campaigned heavily on the issue of integrity in federal politics, was asked if he would support a body that had powers to sack sitting MPs.

The question drew a nervous laugh from the independent, before outlining he would have concerns about an unelected body being granted such power.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I’m guessing that there would be some constitutional hurdles with that one,” he told the ABC.

“But I can certainly look more into it.”

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