Pro-coal backbenchers within the Liberal Party have already begun undermining a report from the chief scientist Alan Finkel, as Labor foreshadows pulling support for the proposal if new coal-fired power stations are built.
- Senator Eric Abetz accusing Finkel of using “creative assumptions” to come up with recommendations
- MP Craig Kelly calling for another report, different attempts at modelling
- Australian Energy Council says Dr Finkel’s report presents “less political” option
Dr Finkel’s report proposes a clean energy target (CET) to help reduce carbon emissions and lower electricity prices for households by about $90 per year.
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz is accusing the chief scientist of using “creative assumptions” to come up with his recommendations for a CET.
Western Sydney Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly is calling for another report to be done into the economic effect of setting aggressive emissions reduction targets.
He said he would not support a benchmark emission target of 0.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which is the level Dr Finkel has used in his report to model economic effects.
“We had times here last month when 1,000 wind turbines spread from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were delivering zero electricity,” Mr Kelly told Saturday AM.
“I would want to see whatever target that we go for, I want to see several different attempts at modelling just to see exactly what costs that would have on electricity in this nation.
“I think there’ll be varying views in the Coalition, but I think overall we have to be very conscious of the damage that we can do to the economy if the target is too low.”
Finkel’s report presents ‘less political’ option
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Friday went on the record arguing for any CET to allow coal-fired power stations to be built.
Despite the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten offering to compromise on a target and taking a bi-partisan approach to adopting Dr Finkel’s recommendations, Labor has suggested new coal generation would render it useless.
“I’m very concerned that Barnaby Joyce and [former prime minister] Tony Abbott appear to be setting this as a condition,” shadow energy minister Mark Butler told Lateline.
“If that is a condition, the negotiations aren’t going to go very far.”
Amid the political fight over Dr Finkel’s recommendations, the Australian Energy Council argued the proposal largely took the politics out of the debate on carbon emissions.
The council represents major electricity generators and retailers across the country.
Chief executive Matthew Warren was asked whether Dr Finkel’s report presented a more palatable option for the major parties.
“In a sense, I think it’s less political,” he said.
“It’s saying we’re not going to favour any specific technology, we’re going to set our target on the outcomes, rather than the way we get there, and let the innovation and inventiveness of technology providers, both old and new, work out the smartest, cheapest, fastest way of getting there.
“Right now, we couldn’t do it worse if we tried. We’re making everything worse. We’re making prices higher, reliability more unreliable, and we’re not delivering the emissions we’re required to deliver.”