The Turnbull government is a step closer to securing its national energy guarantee, saying Labor’s removal in South Australia paves the way for “sensible” policy.
Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said the ousted Weatherill government’s “big experiment” with renewable energy had led to the highest power bills and lowest level of reliability.
“South Australians were offered the chance to double down on Mr Weatherill’s policies … and emphatically they said: ‘No way, Jay’,” Senator Birmingham told parliament on Monday.
He said the former SA government simply wanted a fight with Canberra, rather than a policy discussion.
“The removal of the South Australian Labor government absolutely clears a major threat to sensible energy policy in Australia,” Senator Birmingham said.
The new SA government has signalled it will sign up, but wants to see the modelling first.
“We want the most reliable energy in the country, and to do that we need a national approach,” Premier Steven Marshall said.
Unlike the ousted Weatherill government, he will ensure the Energy Security Board is given the opportunity to do its modelling before a decision is made, he says.
Senator Birmingham said he was confident Mr Marshall would put good policy before cheap headlines.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday said the election of the Marshall government “improved considerably” the likelihood the national energy guarantee would be approved by COAG.
Mr Turnbull also claimed the SA Liberal win as a strong voter endorsement of the federal government’s policy.
The new premier said his government rejected Labor’s “go-it-alone policy settings” on energy.
“I genuinely believe that a national approach is in the best interests of our state.”
But Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who represents SA, warned Mr Marshall and Mr Turnbull would be foolish to attack renewables.
“Think twice before coming after South Australia and our renewable energy industry,” she told Sky News.
The federal government’s NEG will be back on the table at a Council of Australian Governments ministerial meeting in April.
The ACT was the only other jurisdiction resisting the policy.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the position of the new SA government, joining all other governments, would likely see the ACT also get on board.
“I cannot see the ACT holding out as a lone objector to a national solution that is so badly needed,” he told ABC radio.