NSW upper house MPs have endured an all-night sitting in parliament to deal with a tranche of One Nation-proposed amendments to renewable electricity legislation that’s supported by the government, Labor and the Greens.
Government upper house leader Damien Tudehope on Tuesday suspended the Legislative Council’s midnight adjournment time to work through the 249 amendments to the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill.
The amendments were put forward by One Nation’s Mark Latham in an attempt to throw sand in the gears of the bill’s passage.
Some 65 amendments had been addressed by about 7:30am on Wednesday, before a one-hour breakfast break was called.
Just over 70 amendments had been addressed by about 9:30am.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is demanding upper house members facilitate the bill’s passage before the end of the year, which will require them to soldier on and work through each and every one of Mr Latham’s 249 amendments.
The government argues its “Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap” will enable $32 billion in private sector investment in energy by 2030 and bring 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and two gigawatts of storage online.
While the government argues its plan will reduce annual power bills by $130, Mr Latham believes prices will increase by up to $400.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the NSW government’s priority should be reducing energy prices, not altering the energy mix.
He said he’d spoken to NSW counterpart Matt Kean this week and voiced his concern the legislation could prompt the closure of coal-fired power stations.
“What we don’t want to see now is premature closure of coal-fired power stations or policies that are going to stop investment in new generators like gas generators that AGL and Energy Australia are proposing – so that has been a concern,” Mr Taylor told 2GB radio on Wednesday.
“I’m confident we can work it through but there needs to be a relentless focus on what customers need which is affordable, reliable electricity.
“That means policies that encourage more supply, not driving out supply.”