What's Going On With The National Energy Guarantee?
Backbenchers, backflips and Bill Shorten -- how Malcolm Turnbull is trying to change energy policy and keep his job at the same time.
What was once a shiny new policy with a fancy little acronym has become so problematic for our Prime Minister that there are rumours he could lose his job over it.
According to Malcolm Turnbull, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) would lower costs for consumers, where the government would set a price expectation, outlining the most a consumer should pay for electricity.
Power companies would also be required to use a percentage of electricity from sources like gas, coal and hydro that would be ready to use if blackouts occurred.
Turnbull would also legislate the 26 percent emissions reduction target by 2030, which would mean any future government would have to gain the support of both houses to increase or decrease this. It was this last part that struggled to get support from a number of MPs, with some even threatening to cross the floor to vote against the bill.
To appease his critics, Turnbull will instead propose setting emissions targets that will be enforced by regulation, not legislation. These will not need any approval from the house of representatives or the Senate to be changed.
This change however, hasn't really solved any problems.
What The PM Wanted
Initially, Turnbull wanted to legislate a 26 percent reduction target by 2030 which he claimed was both fair and responsible. The legislation would also require the government to support any change to the reduction targets or energy prices.
"Now, we believe in democracy. We believe that the Parliament should have a say in this, and so, if we legislate that, then subsequent governments, whether it's of our side of politics or the other, would have to persuade both Houses of Parliament to make any change to it. And that is a great security," Turnbull said on his planned law on Tuesday.
What Liberal Backbenchers Want
There's been a mixed response from the Liberal backbench with several members including Tony Abbott, George Christensen, Andrew Hastie, Kevin Andrews and Andrew Gee threatening to cross the floor if the plan for legislation was to continue.
Andrew Gee and Tony Abbott have been the most vocal voices opposing Turnbull's plan, insisting that legislating emissions targets will make the situation worse, not better. Abbott also accused the government of developing an emissions "obsession" and pushed them to abandon the Paris emission targets altogether.
But now that Turnbull has changed his mind, there's been a fresh spout of backlash primarily surrounding the potential advantage it gives to a future Labor government.
National Senator John Williams said he was "very concerned" by the change that could hand a new Labor government a free pass to increasing emissions targets to 45 percent.
Nationals MP George Christensen said changes were needed but that he didn't believe the changes "went in the right direction".
Nationals MP Andrew Gee also expressed his frustration at the lack of warning of the new policy.
"I have been raising my concerns for a number of days and no-one has contacted me with any other proposals or any detail of anything on the table," he told ABC News.
What Labor Wants
Labor wants the energy emissions targets to be regulated, not legislated. If Labor takes office following the next federal election they are expected to increase the reduction targets from Turnbull's 26 percent to 45 percent.
Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said on Friday that Turnbull is losing control over is own government calling he NEG debate an "utter shambles".
Butler also highlighted that Turnbull's move away from legislation is a major advantage for Labor.
"It will make it easier for a future Labor Government, or frankly a future Liberal Government that is not beholden to the hard-right, to lift these targets in the future as inevitably will be required," he said.
It wouldn't be a testy time in politics without rumours of a leadership spill. This time, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is tipped to challenge Turnbull for the top job.
But, in a post on social media, Dutton played down the rumours throwing his full support behind the PM and his policies.
Former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has also affirmed his support for Turnbull, saying he doesn't think she should be a change in leadership.
"I think that Malcolm is what we need to try and make sure we get a steady ship and that's precisely what I want," Joyce told The ABC.
It's been a dramatic week for the government and the coming one isn't expected to be any different. Turnbull's revised NEG is set to be presented to cabinet on Sunday.