Dissident government MPs, including the former prime minister Tony Abbott, are continuing to stir the pot on energy despite last week’s party room sign off on the new national energy guarantee.
Craig Kelly and Tony Abbott, who reportedly said the Coalition needed to be prepared have a fight with political opponents about subsidies for renewables. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
The chairman of the backbench committee on environment and energy, Craig Kelly, used Tuesday’s party room meeting to argue the government should cut off support to some renewable energy investments in 2020, rather than the current plan, which is to run down the scheme until 2030.
Kelly was backed in his view by the former resources minister and now Queensland backbencher Matt Canavan and by Abbott who, according to accounts of the exchange, said the government needed to be prepared have a fight with political opponents about subsidies for renewables.
The three MPs argued that people who entered the renewable energy scheme when John Howard set up the mandatory renewable energy target in the early 2000s only had an expectation the scheme would continue until 2020.
The Rudd government later extended the scheme out to 2030.
Kelly is understood to have argued on Tuesday that projects in the scheme before Labor extended it for another decade in 2010 should be subject to the Howard era rules and not be given support after 2020.
But the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, rebuffed the push, telling the meeting changing the rules would trigger sovereign risk issues. He said the policy change the three were seeking would never get through the current Senate.
In response to that comment, Canavan is said to have told Frydenberg that pre-2010 investments continuing through to 2030 were little more than windfall profits and Abbott told colleagues the Coalition needed to be prepared to have a fight and stare down Senate opposition.