Contributed from Queensland
The Young Nationals have contradicted the position of the party leadership to oppose same sex marriage for the second time. Two years ago, they also opposed the official position contrary to the leadership on the carbon emission scheme.
The carbon the carbon trading issue has also been resurrected. The Young Nationals raised a motion for the introduction of a new carbon trading emissions scheme.
The Young Nationals have split with the senior ranks of the party, voting to support the introduction of a carbon trading scheme.
The motion to support the introduction of an emissions trading scheme comes three months after the Coalition put an emissions intensity scheme for energy generators on the discussion table before quickly abandoning the idea as an alternative to the current Direct Action policy, criticized for being pro-fossil fuel. It is a cornerstone of Coalition policy.
Differences within the ranks of the Nationals goes further than the specific issues and is best summed up in the expression “disappointment and disillusionment” with the federal leadership. The party’s base is in the regional centres and country, where environmental damage is often most pronounced. There is growing concern about this.
The other side of the coin is that these are also the places where the economic downturn is hitting the hardest and sometimes there is conflict between this and environmental concerns.
Overall though, growing anger has turned against the Nationals, fueled by the perception that their political leaders are betraying them. This gulf exists within the party ranks and unless the leadership finds a change of heart, the gulf will widen.
An important factor driving the call for a change in energy policy and for alternatives is the rapid rise in the cost of energy, which is most marked in regional and country Australia. It is a significant contributor to falling living standards and a threat to local business.
Young National, Alex Fitzpatrick said, “If we do not plan for renewable energy investment, our hospitals and intensive care units, small businesses with cool rooms and the vulnerable will be impacted – whether it’s blackouts like in South Australia or higher energy bills”.
It seems that it is the younger generation that is most aware of the situation. No wonder, when it is they who must wear the brunt of falling opportunities to carve out a decent life for themselves.
Ben Franklin, a National Party member of the NSW upper-house, praised the Young Nationals for again taking a different position to the wider party, pointing out that it was the youth wing that first backed legal and accessible abortion in NSW in the 1960s.
“I was proud that they debated and passed the motion, that’s exactly what Young Nats should be doing,” he said.