Coal hard cash of­fer

Trea­sury un­der­writes new power plants


THE Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment will un­der­write multi­bil­lion­dol­lar in­vest­ments to build new power sta­tions in a bid to re­duce en­ergy costs.

This ma­jor fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to build new power gen­er­a­tion assets, which could be coal or gas, is also a sweet­ener from Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull to win the sup­port of hos­tile Lib­eral MPs, like pre­de­ces­sor Tony Abbott, who have threat­ened to cross the floor on his sig­na­ture en­ergy pol­icy, the Na­tional En­ergy Guar­an­tee.

Mr Turn­bull’s pop­u­lar­ity has taken a hit since the disas- trous Su­per Satur­day by-elec­tion in Long­man, with the lat­est Newspoll, pub­lished in The Aus­tralian to­day, show­ing his lead over Bill Shorten as pre­ferred PM has been slashed from 19 points to 12.

The Coalti­tion’s pri­mary vote slipped form 39 to 37 points and, on a two-party pre­ferred vote, the gov­ern­ment re­mains be­hind 49/51. It’s the 38th con­sec­u­tive Newspoll the Coali­tion has trailed La­bor.

Se­nior Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment sources yes­ter­day con­firmed they would adopt the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tion to fi­nan­cially un­der­write in­vest­ment in con­struc­tion of new power sta­tions in or­der to help large en­ergy users – in­clud­ing min­eral pro­ces­sors, chem­i­cal fac­to­ries, plas­tic and pa­per man­u­fac­tur­ers – which have been bat­tling high power and gas costs.

MP for Wide Bay Lewl O’Brien has not ruled out cross­ing the floor over con­cerns about sub­si­dies for re­new­ables.

While the power sta­tions will be built specif­i­cally for the use of the largest en­ergy users in the coun­try, it will help lower power prices, a se­nior Gov­ern­ment source said.

“The fo­cus is on get­ting cheap power into the sys­tem. It de­creases prices for ev­ery­one,” he said.

It will also elim­i­nate the con­trol which power re­tail­ers like AGL, Ori­gin and En­ergy Aus­tralia have over the mar­ket.

The move is de­signed to ward off the po­ten­tial for re­cal­ci­trant back­benchers, in­clud­ing Mr Abbott to cross the floor over the NEG, as they push for the gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on a price-tar­get, not only an emis­sions and re­li­a­bil­ity tar­get.

NSW MP Craig Kelly, who chairs the en­ergy back­bench com­mit­tee, will hold a meet­ing at 8am to­mor­row to nut out a po­si­tion be­fore a party room meet­ing later that morn­ing.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg yes­ter­day made a pub­lic plea to dis­af­fected back­benchers to en­gage in “con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion”.

Mean­while, the gov­ern­ment will this fort­night rein­tro­duce its com­pany tax plan to the Se­nate. It wants to re­duce to 25 per cent the tax for com­pa­nies with a turnover of $50 mil­lion or more.

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