The minister responsible for Australia's energy system wants to keep ageing coal-fired power stations "running flat out" as he believes it will lower household bills.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor on Tuesday shrugged off criticism of his policy, including from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Turnbull’s prime ministership came to a brutal end last August in a leadership spill brought on by the coalition’s internal divisions on its then-energy policy.
The former leader told The Australian the Liberal Party was to blame for current high power bills because it is “incapable” of addressing climate change.
But Mr Taylor insists he’s achieving the same outcomes as the National Energy Guarantee, which would have seen Australia’s emissions targets rubber stamped as law.
He remains convinced the nation will reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels as outlined in the Paris agreement, despite government projections saying the opposite.
The minister is focused on changing how energy giants charge customers, and keeping old power sources in the mix.
“We understand the importance of keeping our existing generators in the system, running flat out,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Taylor is unimpressed the Queensland-government is closing its Callide B coal-fired power station in nine years’ time, as it’s a decade earlier than originally planned.
The opposition’s energy spokesman Mark Butler says it’s high time power bills stop rising, offering bipartisan support for a national policy.
“The only way that can happen is for Scott Morrison to stop the ideology, to stare down the hard right within his own party room,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
Meanwhile, the Grattan Institute has urged the government to stop “knee-jerk” policy reactions, which the think tank says is pushing up power prices and scaring off investors.
The Grattan Institute’s report says the government’s touted “big stick” legislation – which would allow it to break up energy giants – is hurting investment.
The national energy market will need about $400 billion in new power-generating infrastructure over the next three decades, the report says.
The institute’s Tony Wood describes the government’s level of intervention as unusual.
He points to the government’s treatment of AGL, which despite giving seven years notice it would close Liddell coal-fired power station, was pressured to keep it operating for another year.
It will close in 2023 and Mr Taylor has set up a task force to monitor the process.
Projects like South Australia’s “rushed” investment in diesel generators or the federal government’s Snowy 2.0 project crowded out other investment, the Grattan report says.
It also urges state and territory governments to create their own nationally consistent policies in the absence of a federal plan.