Former Wallabies great David Pocock has blasted both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese over climate change inaction.
Pocock fronted a climate rally outside Parliament House on Tuesday calling for the federal government’s gas-led recovery to be scrapped in favour of renewables.
The gas plan includes unlocking supply at new and existing gas fields in five key basins and identifying priority gas infrastructure projects.
“We are seeing a total failure of moral leadership from both Labor and Liberal,” Pocock said. “No one wants to make a stand.
“The whole world has moved beyond (gas) and all the modelling shows that a gas-led recovery is not the way to create jobs and the future we want.”
The prime minister spruiked Australia’s gas reserves while on a four-day tour of Queensland in January, saying the mining and gas industries had underpinned the nation’s economic success during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Pocock said Mr Morrison was caught between “a rock and a hard place” because global leaders were taking action on climate, while he pivoted from coal to gas.
“Australians want action on climate change and the way that’s being pitted against the economy is wrong,” Pocock said.
“We’re seeing business leaders set targets, develop road maps, all states and territories have one. It’s really just leadership in government.
“We are better than a gas-led recovery; we can change course and we must.”
Labor supports the “responsible development” of Australia’s gas reserves but acknowledges the nation’s economic recovery must capitalise on renewables.
Pocock was flanked by independent MP Zali Steggall, who told the rally of more than 60 people that climate realities needed to be at the forefront of government policy.
“There is no such thing as natural gas; gas is a fossil fuel just like coal,” she said.
Ms Steggall said Australia should be using more of its own natural resources to develop battery storage technology, instead of sending the rare earth minerals offshore.
Her climate change bill – which proposes an independent climate change commission to oversee a transition to net zero by 2050 – has been put under the microscope of a Senate committee.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie will also present a petition to the House of Representatives calling on MPs to reject the spending of public money on a gas-led recovery and establish a COVID recovery package that accelerates the transition to a net zero carbon economy.
Mr Morrison kicked off the parliamentary sitting year on Monday declaring his goal was to achieve net zero carbon emissions using technology, not taxes, “preferably by 2050”.
He told the National Press Club now was the time to focus on how Australia would achieve the targets and produce hydrogen at $2 a kilo.
“Our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible,” Mr Morrison said.
Pocock criticised Mr Morrison last month after he said the Big Bash League’s decision to refer to Australia Day as “January 26” was “pretty ordinary”.
“A bit more focus on cricket, a little less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia,” he told Queensland’s 4RO Radio.
The rugby star responded to the comment pointing out on Instagram all the times Mr Morrison had injected himself into the sporting world.
“If you’re a young or aspiring athlete: here in Australia we hear a lot of talk — often from our Prime Ministers — that sport and politics shouldn’t mix,” Pocock wrote on Twitter.
“That’s just not true and politicians know it — that’s why they use sport for their own political agenda.”
The rugby star, who retired from the game last year, will head to Zimbabwe on Sunday to establish a conservation and agriculture project.