National Energy Guarantee endorsed by Coalition
The Coalition party room has approved Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a National Energy Guarantee, following a debate this morning that lasted almost two and a half hours.
The aim of the NEG is to cut emissions in the electricity sector by 26% on 2005 levels by 2030, as well as putting downward pressure on energy bills and ensuring a reliable power supply by forcing power companies to buy a proportion of electricity from dispatchable sources including batteries, hydro and gas.
At a meeting of the COAG Energy Council on Friday, state and territory environment ministers expressed some concern about the effectiveness of the plan, with Victoria’s Lily D’Ambrosio, the ACT’s Shane Rattenbury and Queensland’s Cameron Dick claiming the 26% emissions reduction target is too low. The ministers eventually agreed to release the exposure draft of the National Electricity Law amendments that will implement the NEG, following a COAG Energy Council teleconference and the passage of federal legislation through the Coalition party room.
Reports indicate that the majority of the Coalition party room endorsed the plan at today’s meeting, with an estimated 26 members speaking in its favour. By contrast, around 10 either spoke against it or cited reservations.
Among the most vocal of the dissidents was former prime minister Tony Abbott, who issued a statement after the meeting claiming “most explanations of how the NEG (as it stands without price targets) might theoretically get prices down sound like merchant bankers’ gobbledegook”. He and three colleagues — Andrew Hastie, George Christensen and Eric Abetz — have officially reserved their position on the legislation, meaning they could cross the floor to vote against it.
Nevertheless, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is taking the endorsement as a win and said he will hold the aforementioned conference call with state and territory ministers tonight to seek their approval. A draft of the state legislation will then be released and exhibited for a month.
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