Australia

Prime Minister slams state colleague over climate claims, says he 'doesn't know what he's talking about'

Scott Morrison has accused NSW Liberal minister Matt Kean of being ignorant to the inner-workings of the federal cabinet. Source: AAP

Divisions over climate change in the Liberal Party have become personal, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison trying to discredit a NSW government frontbencher.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken an extraordinary personal swipe at a NSW Liberal government minister in a bid to downplay alleged divisions in the party over climate action.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean has spoken out about tensions in the party over the issue, telling Sky News senior cabinet ministers want the prime minister to take strong action.

"Matt Kean doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't know what's going on in the federal cabinet," Mr Morrison told ABC radio on Monday.

"Most of the federal cabinet wouldn't even know who Matt Kean was."

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean.
AAP

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham admitted knowing who the NSW minister is. Asked if he knows Mr Kean, Mr Birmingham told Sky News: "Yes, I do."

The prime minister, who is from the NSW branch of the party himself, has claimed the climate divisions are a "beat up".

The deadly and unprecedented bushfires have renewed public pressure on the government over its climate policies, with calls for the coalition to take more action.

It has also seen a public shift in Mr Morrison's approach to talking about the issue, insisting his government has always understood climate change, while some backbenchers continue to decry the science.

Mr Morrison has turned his focus on climate change adaptation and resilience, but has backed in coal exports and rejected a price on carbon emissions.

About half of Australia's emissions reduction goal - a 26 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 - will be achieved by using past credit, which Mr Morrison is standing by firmly.

Federal Labor's policies remain under review after the party's election loss last year, but the opposition is reportedly planning to announce a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is in line with scientific advice, particularly from United Nations climate policy experts who have extensively modelled the impacts of climate change.

Mr Morrison thinks Labor's likely target will cost Australian jobs.

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