A cohesive energy policy continues to elude the coalition government ahead of the looming federal election.
Australians are due to go to the polls in about two months but members of the Morrison government are yet to be on the same page when it comes to how the nation should be fuelled.
The coalition’s former energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee, was a key factor in the ousting of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in the bitter leadership battle last year.
The rejigged Morrison government has put several options on the table to fill the NEG’s place – including laws to force the breakup of energy companies, putting taxpayer money towards new power plants, as well as sticking with the Paris targets.
But the finer details of the government’s plan to underwrite new power generation has not been shared among the party, with Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Nationals MP Keith Pitt both unable to say how taxpayer money will be used.
“I understand there’s about 66-odd proposals to try and get more baseload power in the national grid,” Mr Kelly told ABC News on Monday.
“I’m not sure what the breakup of states are … but the reality is we do need more baseload power in this nation.”
While the expressions of interest may be subject to confidentiality agreements, voters are looking for clear answers on the hot topic of coal, particularly in the lead up to an election.
Just last week six Queensland Nationals took to penning a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanding the federal government fund a coal-fired station in their state.
The rebels also want the government’s “big stick” energy bill put to a vote during budget week, despite the divestiture plan looking likely to lose.
Mr Pitt – one of the six Queensland Nationals who are sparking up about energy – insists he is not wedded to coal, but finds his government’s policy hard to articulate.
The Nationals MP hopes to take something “tangible” to the next election.
Meanwhile, former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce wants Mr Morrison to use taxpayer funds towards a new coal-fired power plant.
Mr Joyce refuted the prime minister’s claims that the Queensland state government wouldn’t give such a project the go-ahead.
“Let the Labor party say so,” he said.
However, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has previously said that a new coal-fired power plant would keep power prices higher for 40 years.