Turnbull gets energy policy green light
Posted on 06/29/19 4:05 PM
Malcolm Turnbull says cheaper power bills are a step closer after securing “overwhelming” support from his party room for the National Energy Guarantee.
State and territory ministers agreed to release draft legislation that would establish mechanisms for the deal on Wednesday morning, after a phone hook-up on Tuesday night.
It’s still up to Labor to decide if they will also back it.
Mr Turnbull claimed a win in his party room where the majority of his MPs strongly backed the guarantee.
That’s despite former prime minister Tony Abbott refusing to vote for his party’s signature energy policy, giving Labor a chance to kill it in parliament.
“It will deliver not just more reliable power, but cheaper power,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
Starting in 2020, the national energy guarantee is designed to cut $550 a year from energy bills and also requires power companies to meet reliability and emissions reduction targets.
The guarantee will be introduced to federal parliament within the next 10 days.
Mr Abbott warned his colleagues they would be “dead wrong” to endorse the policy, calling the promise of cheaper power “merchant bankers’ gobbledegook” – a backhanded criticism of Mr Turnbull.
Up to a dozen coalition MPs have either expressed concerns with part of the policy or reserved their right to vote against the bill in its entirety.
The chief concern appears to be the lack of certainty over the size of power bill cuts, which some MPs say should be a legislated part of the guarantee.
Asked about the possibility of losing a vote on the draft laws in parliament, Mr Turnbull said he shared colleagues’ concerns about power prices.
Labor says if the states agree to the policy framework then the party will support it, but energy spokesman Mark Butler says the opposition will seek to amend the legislation to include a higher emissions reduction target.
He says Labor is prepared to fight an election on the benefits of renewable energy.
The NEG imposes a 26 per cent emissions reduction target on the electricity sector, but Labor wants a 45 per cent target.
“This is a plan that will smash jobs and investment in renewables,” Mr Butler told reporters.
Victoria and Queensland have so far refused to sign up to the guarantee, but they have also agreed to keep talking.
“We’ll study the Commonwealth NEG legislation thoroughly to see what concessions Malcolm Turnbull has given the climate sceptics in his party room,” Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale urged Labor not to cave in.
“Take a stand and recognise that this policy will drive up emissions, will drive up power prices, and all it will do is make a few climate deniers in the coalition party room happy,” Senator Di Natale told reporters.