Nationals MPs have picked a fresh climate change fight within the federal coalition, releasing a manufacturing plan underpinned by new coal-fired power stations.
Australia is under increasing pressure to take stronger action on climate change following the election of Joe Biden in the United States.
The new president has committed America to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on the Morrison government to use Mr Biden’s election to commit to the same goal.
But the Nationals are unwilling to walk away from coal to achieve the carbon target.
Backbench members of the junior coalition partner have released a manufacturing plan that explicitly calls for investment in coal and gas-fired power.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan claimed the nine-point plan would create up to 800,000 jobs within 15 years.
The former resources minister said power prices could be drastically reduced with the construction of coal-fired power stations.
“It is the cheapest way to provide the reliable power needed to support manufacturing,” Senator Canavan said.
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek is unconvinced.
“We could create jobs, power manufacturing and cut power prices for families with cheaper, cleaner renewables,” she said.
The manufacturing blueprint poses a real problem for Scott Morrison, who now faces duelling pressures at home and aboard.
The prime minister is expected to speak to Mr Biden this week, with climate change almost guaranteed to be discussed.
The two countries are setting up a joint working group to develop emission reduction technologies.
It is unlikely Mr Morrison will attempt to override the Nationals agitators, leaving him exposed to criticism from the US and other major trading partners with strong climate change targets.
Mr Biden has pledged to replace US government vehicles with American-made electric cars, while Australia is still yet to set a policy on the issue.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor on Monday spoke with his US counterpart John Kerry, who is the special presidential envoy for climate.
In a read-out provided Mr Taylor’s office, Mr Kerry welcomed Australia’s target of achieving net zero “as soon as possible”.
The statement focused on Australia’s approach of using technology in order to achieve net zero emissions.
The pair agreed not only is more international collaboration needed, but the private sector needs more encouragement to invest in developing the technology required.