Labor’s proposed zero emissions target has raised tensions in Canberra, transforming what should have been a simple press conference into a heated, seven-minute argument between Barnaby Joyce and Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon.
A press conference at Parliament House this morning rapidly devolved into a heated argument between Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon, after the topic of zero emissions targets arose.
The argument began after Mr. Fitzgibbon walked over and interrupted Mr. Joyce's press conference, in order to defend his party's recent commitment to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The entire debate, which lasted for close to seven minutes, took place in front of a bank of news cameras gathered to film Joyce's press conference.
The presence of every major news network in Australia did not seem to deter either politician, and the resulting argument was captured in its entirety, complete with footage of Mr. Joyce declaring Mr. Fitzgibbon's explanation of Labor's policy to be "an absolute load of pig manure!"
Images of a red-faced Mr. Joyce shouting and gesturing wildly as he mocks Mr. Fitzgibbon's phrasing have already begun to be shared as a meme.
Throughout the argument, it was difficult for either MP to get a word in without being interrupted.
The result was seven minutes of conversation that needs to be seen to be appreciated. In transcript format, sections of the debate read as follows:
Joyce: So, how are you going to do it?
Fitzgibbon: What the Labor Party is going to do is --
Joyce: How are you going to do it?
Fitzgibbon: -- reach out to these organisations, including --
Barnaby: Oh, he's gonna reach out to you! It's like a charity, isn't it?!
Fitzgibbon: Well you asked me a question, Barnaby --
Joyce: How are you going to do it?
Fitzgibbon: See, you don't want me to answer --
Joyce: Well, answer it!
Fitzgibbon: -- because I have the answer.
Joyce: Answer it.
Fitzgibbon: So we're going to reach out to these organisations, including --
Joyce: [chanting and making a grabbing motion] reach out, reach out, reach out!
Fitzgibbon: -- BP, Santos, other oil and gas companies, and we're going to say, well you've made a commitment to zero net emissions, in some cases in 2030 --
Joyce: Ohhhhh. That's how you're going to do it.
Fitzgibbon: How can a Labor government work with you --
Joyce: -- they're gonna --
Fitzgibbon: -- to help you meet your aspirations --
Joyce: What a load of rubbish!
Fitzgibbon: That makes a lot of sense, Barnaby --
Joyce: What an absolute load of pig manure!
We'll leave it there, but you get the picture.
Labor's commitment to a target of net zero emissions by 2050 has ruffled feathers elsewhere in the Coalition government, which has yet to declare a long-term emissions reduction target.
In an interview with the ABC's Fran Kelly this morning, Energy Minister Angus Taylor criticised Labor's target while declining to offer an alternative.
"We're never going to follow a lead of setting a target without a plan, that's un-costed, and un-funded," he said.
Over the course of a heated 13 minute interview, Kelly pressed Taylor on what long-term emissions targets the government plans to introduce, what research and planning the government is currently undertaking with respect to emissions reduction, and whether the government has assessed the cost of inaction on climate change.
Taylor declined to answer any of these questions specifically, instead repeating that the Coalition government will not set a target "without a plan".
In another interview this morning, Taylor described Labor's emissions reduction target as "silly".