Scott Morrison’s attempt to nudge his government in the direction of a net zero commitment by 2050 is expected to face resistance at this weekend’s annual convention of the Liberal National party in Brisbane.

Policy resolutions circulated to LNP members ahead of the event include a proposal originating from George Christensen’s federal divisional council calling for the Morrison government to “oppose net zero emissions if job losses occur for little gain”.

The resolution says any proposal for net zero emissions “needs to specify how it will be achieved and in what timeframe” and it adds: “Before adopting any proposal, methods of achieving such need to be modelled – and if there will be job losses, then the proposal shall be opposed.”

Another resolution in circulation before the weekend LNP convention is even tougher, calling on the Morrison government to “ensure that any proposal for a carbon net zero target by 2050 is opposed, and no commitment to net-zero CO2 is made at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow”.

Morrison is facing pressure from the Biden administration, the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, and European leaders to bring more ambitious climate change commitments to Cop26 in Glasgow later this year. Metropolitan Liberals also want Morrison to execute a climate policy pivot.

Morrison’s language on achieving net zero by mid-century – while still equivocal – has warmed considerably since Biden won the US election and brought his country back into the Paris agreement. The prime minister says achieving that goal either in 2050 or before that date is the government’s “preference”.

But Morrison has faced sustained resistance from the Nationals about a net zero commitment.

On Sunday, Barnaby Joyce, who has recently returned as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister, told the ABC the junior Coalition partner wanted to see how much a 2050 net zero carbon emissions commitment would cost – likening the policy decision to ordering an uncosted meal in a restaurant.

Another LNP convention resolution originating from the Dawson federal divisional council also urges the Morrison government to “support the construction of a clean coal-fired power station in north Queensland”.

As well as proposals on climate policy and coal, the issue of quotas is also flagged in resolutions. Recent opinion polls suggest the Coalition has significant work to do to restore its standing with female voters in the wake of parliament’s #MeToo moment, and a commitment to boosting female representation would be an obvious signal of modernity and inclusion.

During the height of the Brittany Higgins furore, Morrison expressed interest in the Liberal party adopting quotas to boost female representation. The prime minister said in March he wanted more women preselected and did not hold the same “reservations” about the concept as some in his party.

But a resolution in circulation before the weekend convention takes the opposite position. The policy resolution reads: “That this convention of the LNP recognise that the LNP deserves the best representation and therefore LNP candidates should be selected on merit.”

“The LNP rejects gender quotas as a means of being elected to parliament,” it states.

The resolution “recognises the outstanding contribution in many roles made by women and undertakes to continue to provide for the advancement of women in every role” – acknowledging selection is by merit and not by “gender-based quota systems for appointments”.

There has been a push from party moderates in Queensland for the LNP to adopt critical recommendations from the Menzies Centre Gender and Politics report from 2020 – including reporting on the number of women participating in the party at all levels and setting realistic targets to improve the representation of women at all levels.

But this push has faced internal opposition from right faction players.

A resolution that has been circulated ahead of the weekend convention calls for a “working committee to examine the Menzies Gender and Politics Report 2020, consider its adoption with a view to collating and reporting the participation of women in the party at all levels, and subsequently set realistic targets to improve current female representation at each level”.

There will also be an attempt during closed constitutional sessions of the convention on Friday to change language in the party’s constitution to gender-neutral terminology – although it is unclear whether that rudimentary attempt at modernisation will succeed.



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