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Victoria wants to ditch national energy laws which "let us down"


Victoria wants to break away from national energy supply rules so it can make greater use of renewable power sources.

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The state Labor government will put a bill to parliament on Tuesday to override the national regulations, a regime it says causes excessive delays in delivering renewable energy projects to the market.

“The existing national energy laws have let us down – they have failed to drive investment in our electricity system or provide a 21st century grid for all Victorians,” Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said in a statement.

“We continue to pressure the Commonwealth, as Chair of the Energy Council, for changes to the national market rules so Victorian households and businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing more reliable, cleaner and cheaper power.”

D’Ambrosio says the new laws will still involve the government consulting with the Australian Energy Market operator and the state would still be able to import electricity during peak demand periods.

The reforms would push for more renewable energy supplies and a call out to increase capacity for the Victoria-NSW interconnector.

It comes as the Morrison government is set to adopt a technology investment target instead of signing up to a global agreement to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Australia is expected to argue technology is the best way to meet a net zero goal that countries signed up to in the 2015 Paris agreement, at an international summit in November, The Australian reported on Tuesday.

Moderate Liberal MPs have been pushing for a net zero emissions target, while conservative forces within the coalition are fiercely opposed to the idea.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled he wouldn’t bow to international pressure for Australia to set more ambitious climate change targets.

“I tend not to take lectures from other countries about what Australia’s doing because we’re the ones who are actually meeting and beating our targets,” he told Triple M radio on Tuesday.

“Others will make their comments – and they’re wrong. We’re getting on with the job.”

The prime minister said he wouldn’t put in place any measures which raised taxes, put up power prices or cost regional jobs.

“We’re going to have a sensible, balanced policy that acknowledges the need to take action on climate change and meet the targets we set,” he said.

On Monday, Morrison said he wouldn’t sign up to any target without being able to tell Australians the cost.

The prime minister also pointed to New Zealand, which has signed up to the 2050 target, exempting agriculture despite the sector being the country’s biggest contributor to emissions.

Meanwhile, Labor is also debating its approach to climate change and resources, with some MPs warning the party against hostility towards coal.

WA frontbencher Matt Keogh said his state had a resource-based economy.

“When people appear to be against one area of the resources sector, WA gets worried,” he told The Australian.

“Labor is a party that supports the resources industry and its workers across the nation, as well as supporting action to reduce emissions. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

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