Aussie Climate Wars Escalate As Coalition Rebels Challenge Turnbull

  • Date: 14/08/18
  • The Australian

Malcolm Turnbull’s authority has been directly challenged by 10 ­Coalition MPs reserving the right to cross the floor of parliament to vote against the government’s signature energy policy and leave the Prime Minister at the mercy of Bill Shorten to pass the national energy guarantee.

Mr Turnbull held crisis talks late yesterday with five of the rebel MPs who had spoken out against the policy during a Coalition party­room meeting, urging them to support the NEG, which will be introduced as early as this week.

Facing the threat of a parliamentary revolt, Mr Turnbull is understood to be considering further legislation to lock in a price guarantee, separate from the NEG’s emissions target and reliability guarantee, to address concerns that the policy has no firm mechanism to lower prices.

A group of MPs led by Tony Abbott yesterday told a Coalition partyroom meeting that they would reserve their right to cross the floor on the energy policy, which mandates a 26 per cent emissions-reduction target, if the NEG was introduced without major changes.

Senior ministers have privately conceded that a defeat in the House of Representatives inspired by defecting Coalition MPs would have consequences for Mr Turnbull’s leadership and leave the government stranded without a central energy policy that promised lower prices for consumers.

However, the optics of having to rely on Labor support to ensure passage of the bill through either the lower house or the Senate could be just as politically disastrous for the Coalition, several ministers said last night.

Senior government sources have confirmed that the policy is all but dead without Labor’s support, if not in the lower house then at least in the Senate, as the crossbench is unlikely to usher it through.

Mr Abbott told The Australian that the state Labor governments should “kill” the NEG by refusing to implement the state legislation required to enact the bulk of the policy, including the key reliability guarantee. “Any policy that required the agreement of the state Labor governments was always going to have a rough time in the partyroom,” the former prime minister said.

“Having listened to the reservations of my colleagues, the best way forward might be to let the states kill the NEG and just get on with underwriting new dispatchable power along the lines of ACCC recommendation four.” […]

Greens leader Richard Di Natale foreshadowed a ferocious attack on Labor yesterday if Mr Shorten agreed to the 26 per cent target and argued there would be no end to the “climate wars”.

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