Malcolm Turnbull is forced into a humiliating backdown on energy policy as pressure mounts on him to quit as Prime Minister – with MPs now in ‘open revolt’ against his leadership.
—Malcolm Turnbull announced raft of major National Energy Guarantee changes—
—Queensland Liberal National Party president urged MPs to withdraw support—
—Gary Spence said half of 21 LNP seats could be lost unless Mr Turnbull dumped—
—Rumours that Peter Dutton will mount a leadership challenge continue to swirl—
—A horror new poll shows support for Coalition slip to 45 per cent against Labor—
—Loyal Turnbull supporter Christopher Pyne admitted support for PM dwindling—
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been forced into another humiliating backdown as pressure mounts on him to quit.
Senior government figures have said Mr Turnbull is facing an ‘almost inevitable’ challenge to his leadership as infighting over his controversial energy policy continues, with a state party boss urging 21 MPs to withdraw their support.
In the latest of a series of attempts to stave off a leadership challenge, Mr Turnbull on Monday outlined a raft of major changes to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).
One crucial change will be abandoning plans to legislate carbon emission targets through the NEG, which would be blocked by coalition backbenchers in the one-seat majority 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,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday.
Mr Turnbull defied rumours of an impending leadership spill, denying his position was under threat and declaring he had the ‘absolute support’ of Mr Dutton.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is faced with an ‘almost inevitable’ challenge to his leadership as infighting over his controversial energy policy continues
‘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 government will also adopt a recommendation from the consumer watchdog to establish a ‘default market offer’ on energy bills.
‘A price expectation will give consumers a clear picture of how much they should be paying for their electricity,’ Mr Turnbull said.
‘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.’
Mr Turnbull spoke as Queensland Liberal National Party President Gary Spence urged MPs in his state to dump him in favour of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
Joining rebel MPs in an open revolt against Mr Turnbull, Mr Spence called for support to be shifted to Mr Dutton, saying the party will struggle to retain seats otherwise.
Mr Spence told the 21 LNP members in Queensland they stand to lose half of all seats in the state unless Mr Turnbull is removed as leader, Sky News reported.
Under Mr Dutton all seats would be safe, the LNP could win back the seat of Herbert from Labor, and possibly even take Kennedy from Bob Katter, Mr Spence argued.
* Government won’t bring in legislation for the National Energy Guarantee to parliament this week, because it lacks numbers to pass it. This means no immediate action on cutting emissions.
* ‘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. Average small business to save $561 to $1,457.
* ACCC to get new powers to step in where there has been an abuse or misuse of market power by big electricity companies, including possible break-up of companies in worst cases.
* Government will underwrite new power generation.
* Talks to continue with the states on the reliability guarantee, which needs to be in place by July 2019.