En­ergy sup­ply to take pri­or­ity un­der PM’s pol­icy

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - DAVID CROWE

Malcolm Turn­bull is pre­par­ing to ask govern­ment MPs to back a new en­ergy pol­icy that puts a pri­or­ity on re­li­able sup­ply rather than cuts to green­house gas emis­sions, sig­nalling an end to gen­er­ous sub­si­dies for so­lar and wind power.

The plan will go to fed­eral cabi­net on Mon­day in a key step to­wards for­mal de­bate within the Coali­tion par­ty­room as early as Tues­day, set­ting the terms of a fight with La­bor that is likely to run all the way to the next elec­tion. It is un­der­stood the pol­icy is yet to be fi­nalised but will be billed as a frame­work to en­sure more in­vest­ment in power gen­er­a­tion, rather than a scheme with the pri­mary goal of cut­ting emis­sions.

The govern­ment be­lieves it is al­ready on track to reach Aus­tralia’s pledge to re­duce na­tional car­bon emis­sions by 26-28 per cent by 2030, jus­ti­fy­ing the de­ci­sion to re­ject a clean en­ergy tar­get that favours so­lar and wind.

While the clean en­ergy tar­get was rec­om­mended by Chief Sci­en­tist Alan Finkel, it has no cham­pi­ons in the Coali­tion par­ty­room and is fiercely op­posed by con­ser­va­tive MPs who want an end to all sub­si­dies for re­new­ables. The al­ter­na­tive will be an in­vest­ment pol­icy that en­cour­ages re­li­able sup­ply, such as re­new­able en­ergy backed by bat­ter­ies or hy­dro power.

Mr Turn­bull dis­missed Tony Ab­bott’s call to aban­don the emis­sion-re­duc­tion tar­get, not­ing the for­mer prime min­is­ter had com­mit­ted to the tar­get in 2015 and should ex­plain whether his new stance was “con­sis­tent or in­con­sis­tent” with his ear­lier be­liefs.

“The im­por­tant thing is that what we are do­ing is de­liv­er­ing the triple bot­tom line that Aus­tralians want,” the Prime Min­is­ter said. “They want af­ford­able en­ergy, they want re­li­able en­ergy. They don’t want to have black­outs.”

He said the “triple bot­tom line” meant af­ford­able and re­li­able en­ergy while meet­ing the emis­sions pledge.

De­fence In­dus­try Min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne said the “com­pre­hen­sive en­ergy pol­icy” would be out­lined soon, while sig­nalling less sup­port for so­lar and wind com­pared with the ex­ist­ing re­new­able en­ergy tar­get.

“The com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage of so­lar and wind in the past ver­sus coal and gas is no longer the case,” Mr Pyne said. “It’s as com­pet­i­tive to bring so­lar and wind into the equa­tion as it is to do coal and gas.”

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