Greens leader Adam Bandt has sparked a war of words after calling on members of South Korea’s National Assembly to get their government to stop buying Australian coal.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack today slammed Mr Bandt’s comments as an attack on Australia’s national interest.
“The Nationals urge Mr Bandt to immediately withdraw his comments and apologise to the thousands of workers who rely on Australia’s resource industry for their livelihood,” he said.
“If Mr Bandt does not withdraw these comments, he should resign from Parliament today.”
Mr Bandt countered by describing Mr McCormack’s love of coal as a direct threat to Australia and said he should stand down for putting Australians’ lives at risk.
The comments came after Mr Bandt was invited by the South Korean embassy in Canberra to address its MPs via video on Tuesday.
He told them the Australian government was refusing to set climate targets despite the growing trend for climate goals in the international community, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“Not only do I ask that you work to get your government to stop buying Australian coal but I also encourage you to agitate to renegotiate our free-trade agreements to include carbon tariffs against us,” he said.
“We have no carbon price anymore, so we need a price signal on our dirty products.”
Mr McCormack described urging a foreign Government to agitate for a change to Australia’s domestic policies through a free trade agreement as an attempt to undermine the country’s democracy.
“In telling a foreign Government to stop buying Australian coal, Adam Bandt is telling tens of thousands of workers in our resources industry that their jobs don’t matter,” he said.
“He is telling tens of thousands of families that they shouldn’t be able to put food on the table. He is telling small and medium-sized businesses that they should just shut up shop.
“This is an attack on Australian jobs. An attack on Australia’s national interest. An attack on an industry that so many people rely upon for an income.”
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry took to social media to back Mr McCormack’s comments.
“Adam Bandt should be ashamed of himself. Encouraging a foreign country to stop buying Australian coal is disgusting and treacherous,” she said.
But Mr Bandt said the ‘coal-hugging’ McCormack/Morrison Government was threatening millions of Australian lives and jobs.
“Coal is a threat to Australia,” he said.
“The next time a bushfire or cyclone hits, Australians should remember that the Deputy Prime Minister actively pushed for more coal to make the climate emergency worse. He will bear some responsibility.
“The Bureau of Meteorology has just said Australia is on track to warm by 4.4 degrees by the end of the century, yet the Deputy Prime Minister wants to make it even worse.
“The only way to protect Australia is to take strong action on climate and phase out coal.”