Energy minister Josh Frydenberg is confident his coalition colleagues will endorse the National Energy Guarantee, despite some backbenchers threatening to vote against it.
The Turnbull government’s signature energy policy is now at the mercy of the coalition partyroom, after the states and territories offered their in-principle support.
Several high-profile MPs,including Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce, have threatened to break ranks and scuttle the plan.
However, Mr Frydenberg believes there is strong support for the policy in coalition ranks.
‘My colleagues have been briefed by the miners, the manufacturers, the farmers and the industry groups who say this is the only game in town to reduce people’s power bills,’ he told the ABC on Sunday.
‘They know how hard this is and they know Australia needs to break with the impasse that has dogged this policy in the past.’
Mr Frydenberg chastised Labor states including Victoria for making ‘crass, calculating’ last-minute demands to reshape the policy.
‘This is politicking and posturing and what the sector wants is investment certainty,’ he said.
‘We have to disassociate the crass short-term political calculations going on in Victoria from the long-term national interest.’
Victoria wants the proposed 26 per cent emissions reduction target to be set by regulation, rather than legislation.
However, Mr Frydenberg dismissed the suggestion and unloaded on the ‘spooked’ state government.
‘They have been approving of the design and the process, but they get a few hundred emails in inner-city seats from green voters, suddenly they are spooked.’
He insists threats of blackouts are ‘absolutely real’ should the states reject his plans.
The federal opposition wants a 45 per cent emissions reduction target.
It also wants the setting to be reviewed sooner than 2024, as proposed by the government.
Labor senator Kristina Keneally said the opposition understood calls for investment certainty.
‘We understand the lack of certainty has been driving up electricity prices,’ Senator Keneally told Sky News.
‘We also understand, though, that not having enough investment in renewable energy and bringing renewable energy online is also driving up prices.’
Senator Keneally said it was unclear how the target would be set and whether it would be able to be scaled up.
She said the opposition was willing to work with the government, but would not be handing it a blank cheque.
‘We need to see what is on the table.’
Asked about the prospect of lifting the emissions reduction target, Cabinet Minister Simon Birmingham backed the framework as it stands.
‘What we’ve outlined very clearly is a steady approach that provides for five-yearly reviews of emissions targets that will then provide long-term certainty for industry and investors and all aspects of the Australian economy,’ he said.