Turn­bull speech draft said La­bor's 45% emis­sions tar­get might not drive up bills

The Guardian Australia - - News - Katharine Mur­phy Po­lit­i­cal edi­tor

Mal­colm Turn­bull sug­gested it was pos­si­ble La­bor’s pro­posal to pre­serve the na­tional en­ergy guar­an­tee, with a 45% emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get, would not drive up prices, in an early draft of his speech to an en­ergy con­fer­ence ob­tained by Guardian Aus­tralia.

Turn­bull re-en­tered the en­ergy pol­icy fray on Tues­day at the New South Wales Smart En­ergy Sum­mit with a full throated de­fence of his record, laud­ing the Snowy Hy­dro 2.0 ex­pan­sion, and lament­ing the demise of the Neg.

The for­mer prime min­is­ter urged his Lib­eral col­leagues to re­vive the Neg – aban­doned as a ca­su­alty of the Au­gust lead­er­ship fight – ar­gu­ing it was a “vi­tal piece of eco­nomic pol­icy and has strong sup­port, none stronger I might say, than that of the cur­rent prime min­is­ter and the cur­rent trea­surer”.

La­bor is propos­ing to keep the Neg

with a 45% emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get.

The text of the speech the for­mer prime min­is­ter ul­ti­mately de­liv­ered on Tues­day morn­ing, now up­loaded on his web­site, did not ad­dress the im­pact of La­bor’s higher tar­get.

But an ear­lier draft of the speech, did.

“La­bor has an­nounced it will adopt the Neg but with a higher emis­sions tar­get,” the early draft, seen by Guardian Aus­tralia, said. “Ours, as you know, was 26% which was only just above busi­ness as usual so it ob­vi­ously had no ad­verse im­pact on prices.

“There is some mod­el­ling al­ready from Fron­tier Eco­nom­ics which sug­gests that La­bor’s 45% tar­get will not re­sult in higher prices,” the early draft said. “That as­ser­tion de­serves scep­ti­cal as­sess­ment, but it is also im­por­tant reg­u­larly to re­view these mod­els in the light of the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and mar­ket in­for­ma­tion.

“A great deal de­pends too on whether a 45% re­duc­tion means sim­ply that emis­sions in 2030 – in that year – should

be 45% less than in 2005. If that were the case, im­ply­ing a hockey stick, the ad­di­tional cost may not be as high as it would ap­pear.”

Turn­bull is­sued the fol­low­ing state­ment to Guardian Aus­tralia about the unau­tho­rised dis­clo­sure of his draft speech to the en­ergy con­fer­ence. “The notes were ob­tained by Guardian Aus­tralia with­out my author­ity.

“They are in­com­plete draft ma­te­rial. The only re­marks re­leased with my author­ity was the speech that I gave at the con­fer­ence, a tran­script of which is on my web­site.”

The Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment, un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure both on cli­mate change and on en­ergy pol­icy, is at­tempt­ing to por­tray La­bor’s higher emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get as ir­re­spon­si­ble and “econ­omy wreck­ing”.

The mod­el­ling ref­er­enced in the early draft of Turn­bull’s speech, but deleted in the fi­nal ver­sion, found that power prices for house­holds would fall by 2030 un­der four dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios mod­elled by Fron­tier Eco­nom­ics – busi­ness as usual and emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­gets of 26%, 45% and 65%.

That re­search was com­mis­sioned by the Aus­tralian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice (Acoss) and the Brother­hood of St Lau­rence, and was re­leased in Septem­ber.

Turn­bull did not, in his pub­lic com­ments on Tues­day, en­dorse La­bor’s 45% tar­get. He said higher emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­gets needed to be guided by “en­gi­neer­ing and eco­nom­ics”.

When the gen­eral com­ments Turn­bull made about re­viv­ing the Neg fu­elled a La­bor at­tack on the gov­ern­ment’s en­ergy pol­icy in ques­tion time, the for­mer prime min­is­ter took to so­cial me­dia to stress that he had not en­dorsed La­bor’s 45% tar­get.

“I have not en­dorsed La­bor’s en­ergy pol­icy,” the for­mer prime min­is­ter said on Twit­ter. “They have adopted the Neg mech­a­nism but have not demon­strated that their 45% emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get will not push up prices. I en­cour­aged all par­ties to stick with Coali­tion’s Neg which re­tains wide com­mu­nity sup­port.”

Mal­colm Turn­bull speak­ing to the Smart En­ergy Sum­mit in Sydney on Tues­day. An early draft of his speech im­plied La­bor’s emis­sionsre­duc­tion tar­get might not push up power prices. Pho­to­graph: Dan Him­brechts/AAP

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