Malcolm Turnbull Gets Energy Policy Green Light
Malcolm Turnbull's National Energy Guarantee gets "overwhelming" support from coalition.
Malcolm Turnbull says Australia is one step closer to cheaper and more reliable energy because of the "overwhelming" support of the coalition partyroom for his policy.
It is understood former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was one of only a handful of coalition MPs to speak against the National Energy Guarantee policy at the 2.5-hour closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
"We've had a good debate in the coalition party room - overwhelming support for the National Energy Guarantee, whose object is cheaper, and more reliable energy and at the same time, of course, meet our commitments to reduce emissions in accordance with the Paris agreement," Turnbull said after the meeting.
The legislation setting an emissions reduction target of 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 for the electricity sector - to be introduced to federal parliament this sitting fortnight - will be put to a teleconference of state energy ministers on Tuesday night.
It is possible Abbott and those of similar mind could cross the floor when it comes to the legislation, which could make it a tight vote in the one-seat majority parliament if Labor also opposes it.
Asked about the possibility of losing the vote, Turnbull said he shared colleagues' concerns about power prices.
He said the government would insist the changes be made by legislation, not regulation.
"We believe in democracy," he said.
"We believe the parliament should have a say in this and so if we legislate that, then a subsequent government, whether it's on our side of politics or the other, would have to persuade both houses of parliament to make any changes to it."
Starting in 2020, the NEG is designed to bring down energy bills by about $550 a year and requires retailers to source electricity that meets reliability and Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets.
Abbott had argued coalition MPs would be "dead wrong" to back it. Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce proposed an amendment to enforce price reductions.
As well as rolling out the NEG, the Turnbull government is expected to underwrite new power generation projects, which could include coal-fired plants.
This is in line with one of 56 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendations to cut power prices.
Labor leader Bill Shorten earlier told a caucus meeting the prime minister had surrendered to climate sceptics in the government.
"The only thing guaranteed to come out of today is higher power prices and less renewable energy. We have cobbled together today a Frankenstein's monster of a policy," he said.
"While Mr Turnbull goes around attacking Mr Abbott, Turnbull is, in fact, giving in to a lot of Abbott's values when it comes to climate change and energy."
Crossbench conservative senator Cory Bernardi believes the policy will push up prices.
"Unless they remove the barriers to nuclear power ... and until they walk away from the Paris Agreement, they won't have my vote," the former Liberal senator told Sky News.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said walking away from the Paris deal would torpedo Australia's chances of a free-trade deal with the European Union, negotiations for which are underway.