Australia: Turnbull Weighs Up Energy Policy Changes

Australian PM

Malcolm Turnbull is weighing up changes to the National Energy Guarantee in a bid to quell a revolt over the Liberal leadership.

While senior government members insist there is no challenge in the wind, the prime minister is under intense pressure not to legislate Australia’s 26 per cent cut to emissions by 2030 pledged under the Paris agreement.

It is understood cabinet may consider on Monday an alternative plan to put the target in regulations, rather than legislation which would have to run the gauntlet of disgruntled coalition MPs and parliament.

However the main criticism of regulations has been that a future Shorten Labor government could raise the emissions target to its proposed 45 per cent cut, without having to legislate it.

This could be countered by putting in place some form of review mechanism making it harder for future governments which seek to raise the target.

The plan is also expected to include what cabinet minister Christopher Pyne described as a “big stick” approach to electricity prices, which would ensure greater competition and transparent prices among retailers.

A deal on the NEG would take pressure off Mr Turnbull amid speculation about his leadership.

Media reports suggest Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is gearing up for a challenge.

“I’m not aware of any such talk, nobody has raised that with me,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Friday.

Mr Pyne said there was some “hyperventilating” from colleagues.

“The cabinet is 100 per cent united behind Malcolm Turnbull, and in the party room on Tuesday only four people said that they reserved their right not to vote for the NEG,” Mr Pyne said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said the minister was not adding to his comments on 2GB on Thursday, when he said he was loyal to the prime minister and would resign from cabinet if he no longer felt that way.

At least 10 coalition MPs have either flagged they would cross the floor on NEG legislation or were concerned about aspects of the policy.



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