‘A right wing minority’: Malcolm Turnbull re-enters the fray with Neg spray | Australia news
The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has returned to the fray to warn dumping the national energy guarantee – a decision taken by Scott Morrison – will drive up power prices.
Turnbull took exception to a column at the weekend characterising the national energy guarantee as “Malcolm Turnbull’s Neg”, pointing out the policy had strong support within the cabinet, “including and especially the current PM and treasurer”.
The former prime minister took to social media over the weekend to argue that a majority in the government wanted the policy to proceed but “a right wing minority in the party room refused to accept the majority position and threatened to cross the floor and defeat their own government”.
“That is the only reason it has been abandoned by the government,” Turnbull said. “The consequence is no integration of energy and climate policy, uncertainty continues to discourage investment with the consequence, as I have often warned, of both higher emissions and higher electricity prices.
“I am simply stating the truth: the Neg was designed and demonstrated to reduce electricity prices. So dumping it means prices will be higher than if it had been retained.”
Labor has resolved to try to preserve the framework of the Neg, which imposes security and emissions reduction obligations on the energy sector, if it wins on 18 May. The government proposed an emissions reduction target of 26% and Labor is proposing a target of 45%.
Labor is also proposing to keep another government policy mechanism, the safeguard framework, to drive down pollution in heavy industry, again with a higher emissions reduction target.
A debate over climate and energy policy has dominated the opening full week of the campaign with Labor facing questions over the cost of its policies and the Coalition blasting Labor’s decision to use international permits, even though the government in 2017 supported their use.
Labor has not done new economic modelling to outline the costs of its climate policies, but draws on work already in the public domain to argue the economy will continue to grow with higher pollution targets.
Scott Morrison continued to blast Labor’s decision to use international permits over the weekend even though the Liberals had previously resolved to use them in its suite of climate policies and their use is widely supported by the business community.
“Bill Shorten has a plan to reduce emissions by 1.3bn tonnes,” the Liberal leader said. “Now, one of the questions he won’t answer is what proportion of that 1.3bn tonnes is going to be satisfied by buying foreign carbon credits?
“Now, today those credits cost about 43 Australian bucks per credit, OK? For those credits, that will go to $52 by 2030. Now, our best estimate is around half of him meeting that target will be through carbon credits purchased offshore. Now, that’s about $35bn.
“It shouldn’t be hard for Bill Shorten to explain this simple question – of your 1.3bn, Bill, what share of those are going to be achieved by purchasing foreign carbon credits and at what price?”
Shorten expressed his growing frustration with the trajectory of the debate over the weekend. “This has been a 10-year torture on climate change, where the climate has got worse, the extreme weather events have got worse, and this government is still trying to delay and discourage,” the Labor leader said.
“Here is a bet, here’s a bet I’ll make you. Future generations are going to despise the politicians right now who refuse to take action on climate change”.