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Turnbull faces “sizable revolt” over energy prices and Paris agreement

Normally a governing party, especially with a margin of “one”, would consult with its own members before it consulted with the opposition. Turnbull’s gambit appeared to depend on sneaking the plan past the conservatives and libertarian skeptics.

Turnbull in bid to quash NEG rebellion

Simon Benson, Joe Kelly, The Australian

It emerged last night that Labor had been given a copy of the NEG legislation, another move that has angered Coalition MPs who are yet to see it.  A Liberal rebel told The Australian it was “disgusting” that Labor had the legislation but they were being asked to sign off on it sight unseen.

To forestall a revolt, Turnbull is said to be giving ground on all kinds of things, like ways to stop the big retailers gaming the market, but not “Paris”?

However, senior ministers have told The Australian this would not be enough to prevent Coalition MPs crossing the floor if the 26 per cent Paris emissions reduction target was not dumped or “decoupled” from the NEG.

The move to cauterise the growing threat of internal revolt came as the Prime Minister’s most senior conservative minister, Peter Dutton, suggested there could be a time when he resigned from cabinet over policy – which would trigger a leadership crisis.

Dennis Shanahan: Dogs are barking over PM’s leadership on energy prices

There is also growing discontent with Turnbull’s political leadership as ministers are caught in a crossfire of demands that they resign or stay and head off a leadership crisis.

But the focus remains on the energy legislation, which went from being “ready to go” to a “moveable feast” and threatens to end up looking like a dog’s breakfast as every man and his dog offer up ideas and proposals from price control to “decoupling” from the Paris emissions target.

Not enough time was spent earlier to address the concerns of the Coalition partyroom and so avoid what is now a sizeable revolt…

All roads lead to Paris?

Turnbull, apparently is “wedded” to his plan to be the only nation on Earth to legislate and mandate the Paris target. He knows carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes are widely unpopular or he wouldn’t have buried the “success” of his achievement getting a secret emissions trading scheme through Parliament. (One the World Bank is very pleased about). He’s not glued to Paris for the votes. Nor is he doing it for the environment, surely, since all these international schemes achieve notoriously little except for funding some banker yachts.  Turnbull is a smart guy, if he was serious about reducing carbon, he’d be talking about nuclear power, and the cheapest ways to reduce CO2, like supercritical coal, Abbott’s auctions, and anything-other-than-solar. Why the fixation with foreign committee dictats?

Radical — Senator Eric Abetz thinks electricity prices are more important than the PM’s career or the appearance of “unity”:

Senior Liberal Eric Abetz says ­Coalition MPs should put cheaper power prices ahead of political unity …  MPs should not consider the short-term political consequences for Malcolm Turnbull of defeat of the NEG.

“I don’t think the next generation will thank us for putting unity, in inverted commas, before doing the right thing by the ­nation,” he said.

M.P. George Christiansen wants a list of NEG changes:

If it were up to me I’d say RET target “0”. Paris, “0”. We need more competition in generation, a clean market, and the free market will get coal plants running without a subsidy. Christiansen, presumably, has to work within the current NEG plan. I’m grateful he’s one of the few brave enough to speak up:

Joe Kelly, The Australian

The demands — exclusively obtained by The Australian — include the creation of a new clean coal fund, a cut in the NEG’s emissions reduction target from 26 to 17 per cent and changes that would allow the competition watchdog to keep AGL’s Liddell coal fired power plant operating in NSW beyond its planned 2022 closure date.

[He] is also asking for a range of other measures including the implementation of a price target in the architecture of the NEG, an increase to the pensioner energy supplement and the adoption of all 56 recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recent report on the electricity market.

“If I am being asked to vote for an emissions reduction target based on the Paris agreement, I would have to vote against it,” Mr Christensen told The Australian. “I will be voting against it.”

Revolt is in the air:

Another Nationals MP, Keith Pitt,  “is understood to be considering standing down from the frontbench over his concerns with the NEG.”

Write to your local Liberal or National member. Turn the screws.

h/t TdeF

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