Pre­vi­ously NEG­a­tive, Shorten at­tacked for re­viv­ing dead pol­icy

The Australian - - THE NATION - GREG BROWN

The ar­chi­tect of the na­tional en­ergy guar­an­tee, Trea­surer Josh Fry­den­berg, has at­tacked Bill Shorten for con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment’s sig­na­ture en­ergy pol­icy de­clared “dead” by Scott Mor­ri­son in the first weeks of his prime min­is­ter­ship.

Mr Fry­den­berg, who last week said he was “dis­ap­pointed” the NEG was killed off, said the Op­po­si­tion Leader was only in­ter­ested in play­ing pol­i­tics on the is­sue of en­ergy in re­fus­ing to sup­port the pol­icy when he was en­ergy min­is­ter. He said La­bor’s 45 per cent emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get, com­pared to the 26 per cent un­der Mr Fry­den­berg’s NEG model, would be “econ­omy wreck­ing” and lead to the early clo­sure of coal-fired power sta­tions.

“It’s typ­i­cal of Bill Shorten that one minute he is call­ing the NEG a ‘Franken­stein’s mon­ster of a pol­icy’ and the next minute he wants to em­brace it,” Mr Fry­den­berg said. “He was never gen­uine about lower power bills but only in­ter­ested in the pol­i­tics of the is­sue. Dic­tated to by the green-left flank of his party, Bill Shorten’s en­ergy pol­icy is a recipe for only one thing, higher power bills.”

Mr Shorten yes­ter­day ac­cused the Lib­eral Party of be­ing cap­tured by “cli­mate de­nial­ists” as he con­firmed La­bor was pre­pared to adopt a sim­i­lar pol­icy to the NEG.

“That’s not our fi­nal po­si­tion, I has­ten to add, and we’ll have con­sul­ta­tion and dis­cus­sion with my col­leagues. But I think peo­ple are sick and tired of the cli­mate change wars. The cli­mate de­nial­ists, for all in­tents and pur­poses Tony Ab­bott, have taken over the Lib­eral Party,” he told the ABC.

Gov­ern­ment MPs who were vo­cally sup­port­ive of the NEG, and fought re­sis­tance to the pol­icy from con­ser­va­tive col­leagues, yes­ter­day claimed they will have no prob­lem wag­ing war on en­ergy pol­icy against Mr Shorten if La­bor adopts the same frame­work.

Lib­eral MP Trent Zimmerman said La­bor’s higher emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­gets made it a dif­fer­ent pol­icy to the one he had strongly sup­ported when Mal­colm Turn­bull was prime min­is­ter.

Mr Zimmerman, who stared down con­ser­va­tive crit­ics of the pol­icy in June and warned it would be a “mis­take” for the gov­ern­ment to be seen as not act­ing on cli­mate change, yes­ter­day said he was happy with Mr Mor­ri­son’s po­si­tion on en­ergy pol­icy.

The NSW mod­er­ate power­bro- ker said the Prime Min­is­ter re­mained com­mit­ted to the am­bi­tions of the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment’s en­ergy pol­icy: re­duc­ing prices, im­prov­ing re­li­a­bil­ity and meet­ing the Paris tar­gets.

“I am strongly supporting the con­tin­ued ef­forts of the Coali­tion gov­ern­ment to achieve those goals,” Mr Zimmerman said.

He said La­bor would have “one mas­sive dif­fer­ence” if it adopted the NEG be­cause it would leg­is­late “My job be­fore I go to cab­i­net is to as­sess the whole suite of cli­mate poli­cies and as­sess what they are adding and what can be im­proved,” Ms Price said.

The Coali­tion’s cli­mate poli­cies have been em­broiled in con­tro­versy over ne­go­ti­a­tions for a na­tional en­ergy guar­an­tee. By split­ting the en­vi­ron­ment and en­ergy port­fo­lios, Scott Mor­ri­son has al­lowed En­ergy Min­is­ter Angus Tay­lor to fo­cus on re­duc­ing elec­tric­ity prices. This could put more pres­sure on the land sec­tor to meet the gov­ern­ment’s Paris tar­get of 26 to 28 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030.

Ms Price said she was con­fi­dent the tar­get would be met. Aus­tralia’s to­tal emis­sions last year were 540 mil­lion tonnes. More than 60 mil­lion tonnes came from the land sec­tor and 191 mil­lion from elec­tric­ity. A re­port by Cli­mateWorks said land sec­tor emis­sions were ris­ing af­ter sus­tained falls. It es­ti­mated po­ten­tial sav­ings from land use of more than 100 mil­lion tonnes, enough to meet the 2030 Paris tar­get for the whole econ­omy.

Ms Price is ex­pected to at­tend cli­mate change talks in Poland in De­cem­ber where a rule book for the Paris Agree­ment must be fi­nalised.

Aus­tralia has been crit­i­cised for help­ing the US, Ja­pan and EU stall ne­go­ti­a­tions over a promised $US100bn a year fund for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries from 2020. or reg­u­late an “econ­omy de­stroy­ing” emis­sions tar­get of 45 per cent, com­pared to 26 per cent un­der Mr Turn­bull’s pol­icy.

“I have no difficulty in at­tack­ing a pol­icy that has such a ridicu­lous tar­get in­cluded in it,” he said.

Vic­to­rian MP Tim Wil­son said the NEG was only ever sup­posed to be a “tran­si­tion pol­icy”. “The NEG was a tran­si­tion pol­icy to de­liver re­li­a­bil­ity in an elec­tric­ity mar­ket in ad­just­ment,” he said.

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