Tony Abbott has claimed victory in influencing the government’s direction on a clean energy target and confirms he will cross the floor if the Coalition attempts to increase subsidies for renewable technologies.
Tony Abbott declared the backbench would “end up saving the government from itself”. Picture: AAP
Declaring the backbench would “end up saving the government from itself”, Mr Abbott said the Coalition was “getting the message that we just have to drop any idea of a clean energy target over and above the existing Renewable Energy Target” — which he legislated as prime minister in 2015.
“We have more than enough renewables in the system already and if there were to be an attempt to legislatively increase subsidies for renewables, I couldn’t and won’t support it,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio. yesterday.
“I’m encouraged that the Prime Minister is talking almost as much about coal, baseload and keeping Liddell open, as he is about pumped hydro. He wasn’t very keen about keeping Hazelwood open when I suggested it back in March but now I think he’s got the message and we’re talking about baseload, we’re talking about coal.”
Liberal MP Craig Kelly said he would “reserve his right” to cross the floor until he saw the detail of the CET and agreed with Mr Abbott that taxpayer-funded subsidies to renewable energy sources should not be extended. However, he said a CET mechanism could ensure there was “adequate dispatchable power in the grid”.
The Turnbull government is still to land on a CET more than three months after it was recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel amid deep divisions within the Coalition party room.
Malcolm Turnbull said government MPs were “absolutely of one mind” in ensuring Australians had affordable and reliable energy but refused to comment on Mr Abbott’s latest intervention in energy policy.
“Everyone in the Coalition, of which Mr Abbott is a member, are united on ensuring that Australians have affordable and reliable energy,” Mr Turnbull said.
“I’m not going to run a commentary on other people’s remarks. We have a Renewable Energy Target, as you know, which runs out in 2020. It was amended and legislated in 2015, while Tony was prime minister.
“So it’s part of the law … What we are considering … are the arrangements after 2020 to ensure affordable and reliable energy, and, of course, to meet our emissions reduction obligations under the Paris Agreement.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said backbenchers were free to do as they liked but urged concerned colleagues to see what the “final plan was” before making decisions.