Scott Morrison says the government’s commitment to the “core components” of the National Energy Guarantee has not changed, while his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull has taken aim at climate sceptic coalition MPs
Mr Turnbull accused the sceptics of “blowing up the government” and ending his leadership in order to ditch the energy policy he championed.
The government on Tuesday also announced laws to put in place a “big stick” to stamp out misconduct by power retailers and generators, easing pressure on power prices.
The prime minister told parliament – when challenged by Labor in question time to support the NEG – that the “core components” of it remained in place.
These included an emissions reduction target of 26 per cent and a reliability guarantee to increase the amount of contracted electricity supply.
“That’s the componentry of what the mechanism for the National Energy Guarantee was designed to achieve and this hasn’t changed in terms of where we stand,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Turnbull gave a speech in Sydney in which he pleaded for the government to revive the NEG.
“It was a vital piece of economic policy and had strong support – none stronger than that of the current prime minister and the current treasurer,” he said.
Mr Turnbull, who was ousted in August after climate sceptics in the party baulked at the energy policy, lamented there was a “huge gulf” between coalition MPs on the issue.
“A significant percentage don’t believe climate change is real and we should get out of Paris,” he said.
“They are prepared to cross the floor, to blow up the government, in order to get their way.”
However, the coalition “insurgents” who torpedoed the NEG were in a “minority”.
He said without the NEG Australia would end up with “higher emissions and higher energy prices”.
However, he credited the government with making considerable effort to deal with electricity prices and provide greater reliability.
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said Australians would continue to see higher power prices while the government could not get its act together on a policy.
Mr Turnbull later clarified he had not endorsed Labor’s energy policy, as it had a 45 per cent emissions reduction target that would push up power prices.
Meanwhile, new laws to be introduced to parliament this week will put in place financial penalties on electricity retailers and generators that engage in misconduct.
Misconduct will include failing to reasonably pass on cost savings to consumers and generators manipulating the spot market.
The divestiture powers already flagged by the government will remain in the legislation.
However, rather than giving treasurer Josh Frydenberg the final say on breaking up the energy giants, he will have to apply to the courts.