The prime minister has capitulated to pressure from a small but vocal group of Coalition backbenchers, who are dead against stipulating a 26 per cent cut to greenhouse gas emissions in either legislation or regulation.
Outlining yet another energy policy reset, Turnbull said today it was clear legislation containing an emissions target would not pass the parliament.
“In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver and that’s what we’ve done and we’ll continue to do,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
“The outstanding reservations of a number of our colleagues, combined with the absence of bipartisan support, means that as long as that remains the case we won’t be in a position to take that legislation forward.”
The revised plan involves a “default market offer” to give consumers a clear picture of how much they should be paying for their electricity.
Saving for households could range between $183 and $416 a year with small businesses to save between $561 and $1457.
“For too long, the energy companies have baffled consumers with confusing and complex offers, promising deep discounts to standing offer prices that bear little relation to the cost of providing electricity,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull’s latest policy shift is widely viewed as an attempt to avoid an embarrassing loss on the floor of parliament, and a potential leadership challenge by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
However, Turnbull insists the legislated carbon emission target remains government policy.
It has only been shelved until the government is confident it has the lower house numbers to pass its legislation.
“Our energy policy remains the same, but we are not going to present a bill into the House of Representatives until we believe it will be carried,” the prime mister said.
He claimed the NEG could still create investment certainty without an emissions target.
The state and territory governments are being consulted on the reliability aspect of the policy, which Turnbull wants in place by next July.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will receive extra powers to intervene and break up market concentration if major companies gobble up their smaller competitors.
Asked whether these additional powers were designed to prevent the closure of AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW, Turnbull said: “I can’t speculate about that.”
“Directions of this kind could be used to keep a power station going and, in fact, there are many electricity markets in the world where there are rules that operate exactly like that.”
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