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PM targets National Energy Guarantee

By Country News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison claims electricity prices will not go up, despite killing off his government’s power-bill-busting energy plan.

The Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee was expected to save households at least $150 a year.

But Mr Morrison buried the policy earlier this week after its climate change targets proved unpalatable to some of his conservative colleagues.

The Prime Minister is now arguing other changes, including default prices and investment in new power generation, will still save households about $500.

Mr Morrison is trying to turn the tables on Labor, claiming its plans to cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent will increase power prices.

‘‘Not only will we bring electricity prices down, if the Labor Party were to come in, they would put electricity prices up,’’ he said in Canberra last Wednesday.

Originally, the National Energy Guarantee was going to enshrine in legislation Australia’s commitment to its Paris climate targets.

Malcolm Turnbull abandoned this plan to appease climate sceptics in Liberal Party ranks, but he was sacked as prime minister anyway.

Mr Morrison formally disowned the guarantee at a Coalition party room meeting last Tuesday, vowing to divorce climate from energy policy.

However, former Liberal leader John Hewson warned this would backfire at the ballot box.

‘‘You’re playing with fire electorally if you think you can pretend that these two issues can be separated,’’ Dr Hewson said.

‘‘Don’t pretend that you can get away with just talking about electricity prices, because you can’t talk them down, you need a policy that will deliver it.’’

A new report from the Australia Institute has found three-quarters of voters support action on climate change.

Two in three people want Australia to exit the coal industry within 20 years, while almost half want a moratorium on new coal mines.

Dr Hewson took aim at both major parties for engaging in climate wars for the past 10 years.

‘‘I think the short-term politicking through this period has been disastrous,’’ he said.