Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull during question time on Monday, 20 August 2018, after he announced he was all but abandoning his energy policy. Photo: Mick Tsikas / EPA

By Katharine Murphy
20 August 2018

(The Guardian) – Malcolm Turnbull will face the verdict of his colleagues in a tense party room meeting on Tuesday, after effectively abandoning the government’s signature energy policy in what could be a fruitless attempt to stay ahead of a full blown leadership crisis.

The prime minister announced on Monday the national energy guarantee – the policy the government has argued for months is necessary to create investment certainty in Australia’s energy sector – had been shelved indefinitely because he could not proceed with it in the face of opposition from within his own party.

At an extraordinary press conference that called into question the prime minister’s authority over his government, Turnbull also unveiled “last resort” divestiture powers to break up large energy retailers as part of a suite of measures designed to reduce power prices.

That move has triggered white-hot fury among the business groups that had lined up publicly for months to support the Neg. […]

Ebullient Nationals were also claiming victory after the Turnbull backdown. Claims from various Nationals that the new power package would trigger new coal-fired power investments were followed by a car-crash interview from the party leader, Michael McCormack, on Sky News late on Monday.

McCormack declared the Neg’s emissions reduction target did not need to be legislated, even though it technically remains government policy to legislate it. He said Australia would meet its obligations under the Paris agreement without intervention.

Asked for a factual source to back up that contention, McCormack said he was aware of it courtesy of “people who measure these things”. […]

The ACT’s climate change minister, Shane Rattenbury, said the policy was done: “The Neg is dead.

“It was hailed as a policy to address the trilemma of prices, reliability and emissions reduction. Instead, federal energy policy is being determined by the worst, climate change denying elements of the Liberal party.

“The federal government has now completely capitulated on emissions and climate change, and abandoned the Paris climate change commitments.” [more]

Malcolm Turnbull to face party-room reckoning after energy U-turn

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