Australian PM Turnbull Faces Revolt Over Green Energy Policy

  • Date: 15/06/17
  • The Australian

Angry Coalition MPs have warned Malcolm Turnbull against embracing a clean energy target that hits consumers with higher prices, in a revolt against a sweeping plan to shift the economy to wind and solar power.

Malcolm Turnbull in question time yesterday. Picture: Kym Smith

fierce reaction is aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to rule out reforms that hurt coal and gas power, as Liberals and Nationals MPs urged him to put a priority on driving down prices rather than meeting targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In a test of his authority on an issue that has split the Coalition in the past, Mr Turnbull vowed to adopt a “pragmatic” approach and assured colleagues there would be no penalty on coal power when the government drafted its reforms.

But the furious MPs used a special Coalition meeting late yesterday to demand actions to improve reliability and affordability, warning Mr Turnbull against embracing a plan that went too far to encourage renewable power.

“Finkel in its current form is dead,” one MP told The Australian last night.

Others said the proposal for a clean energy target remained alive but would be shaped by a strongly negative response from the partyroom. “I don’t think it kills it off — it’s too early to say that,” another MP said.

Conservative MPs said after the meeting that about 20 MPs ­bluntly opposed Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s proposal for a clean energy target or raised significant concerns about the proposal in a clear message about the need to keep incentives for coal power.

“My sense is we’re going to get a clean energy target where there’s no way in hell Labor can back it,” said one Liberal.

“The emissions intensity threshold will be so high to include coal power that Labor will not ­support it.”

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a sharp critic of the clean energy target and made interjections throughout the ­discussions.

“He was the most sceptical about it — he said it wasn’t going to cut prices or provide certainty for consumers,” one Liberal said.

“He was probably the strongest critic throughout the whole ­meeting.”

Others said there were about 10 who were clearly against the clean energy target while another 10 expressed concerns about its design, leaving the plan on the table as long as it was designed carefully to avoid putting pressure on household prices.

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