Morrison Government ‘out of touch’ on climate policy, argues NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin
The New South Wales Coalition Government has labelled its federal colleagues as “out of touch” on energy and climate policies.
- Mr Harwin said the Morrison Government needed to end the “climate wars”
- He said the State Government would be taking independent action after the National Energy Guarantee was ditched
- The NSW Opposition said the op-ed was a “lengthy confession of failure” by the Berejiklian Government
Ahead of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of state and federal energy ministers in Adelaide today, the state’s Energy Minister Don Harwin said he would be pushing for rules to force power companies to reduce their carbon emissions, a move he labelled a “circuit-breaker”.
“Today we’re putting emissions reduction back on the table where it should be,” Mr Harwin said outside the meeting.
“I’m going to argue for work to start on the drafting of an emissions obligation to complement the reliability obligation that we’re working on today.”
An emissions obligation and a reliability obligation were both key parts of the National Energy Guarantee championed by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
But the emissions obligation was dumped by the Federal Government in the final days of Mr Turnbull’s time as prime minister.
In an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review published this morning, Mr Harwin claimed the Morrison Government’s policy changes in the area had jeopardised certainty and delayed investment in the sector.
He told the Financial Review he believed Mr Morrison’s abandonment of carbon emission targets and the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) has inflated power prices.
“The Federal Government is out of touch on energy and climate policy … It’s time for them to change course,” Mr Harwin said.
The NSW Energy Minister urged the Morrison Government to “come to grips” with climate and energy policy.
He noted the State Government was happy with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to implement the NEG, before it became political poison.
“We need to end the ‘climate wars’ and put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology,” Mr Harwin said.
“That’s why New South Wales wants a sensible emissions policy to be embedded in the national electricity law, outside the high drama of the ‘Canberra bubble’.
“For that to happen NSW will move at COAG today that the Energy Security Board provide policy options to Ministers on how to achieve our net-zero by 2050 vision.
‘Focused on keeping prices down’
Ahead of the COAG meeting, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor brushed aside the criticisms from his New South Wales Liberal counterpart.
“We are very, very focused on keeping prices down while we keep the lights on. We’re confident that we can do that,” Mr Taylor said.
“This COAG meeting is important in making sure we keep reliability in our electricity market.”
The response was more strident from Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who is also attending the COAG meeting.
“I’m not focused on what will happen in 2050, I’m focused on what will happen here and now,” the Queensland senator said.
“I certainly don’t intend on being in the Parliament in 2050.
“There are enough problems today, let’s focus on those.”
Victorian Labor Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Federal Government had failed to show leadership on energy policy.
“We’ve only seen floundering and backflipping and no direction whatsoever from the national Government. Today will be no different,” she said.
A confession of failure
In his op-ed, Mr Harwin also took a swipe at Labor states for setting ambitious renewable energy targets.
“Overly ambitious and uncoordinated targets set by Labor are as much a recipe for chaos as the absence of any orderly transitions plan,” Mr Harwin said.
The NSW Opposition spokesperson for Climate Change Adam Searle slammed Mr Harwin’s piece.
“What a joke, it is a lengthy confession of failure by the Berejiklian Government and its Energy Minister,” Mr Searle said.
New South Wales voters will go to the polls in March, ahead of an expected federal election.