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Turnbull’s energy plan going under the microscope as Shorten and Senators press for answers

Turnbull energy
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull might have hoped his eight-page energy plane would keep critics happy, but is proving a forlorn hope. Photo: AAP
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The Turnbull government will be under further pressure to explain and sell its new energy policy when parliament resumes this week.

The opposition is not expected to let the issue go when the House of Representatives sits, while senators get to grill public servants environment and energy government agencies on the policy during Senate estimates.

The Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, whose recommendation for a clean energy target was not included in the government’s final plan released last week, will face senators on Thursday.

But as Labor repeatedly points out, all that is known of the plan is confined to an eight-page document.

clean energy target
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg: Facing lots of “please explains”.

The document claims the plan will save households up to $115 per year in a decade’s time while guaranteeing a reliable source of energy.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on Sunday promised to provide Labor and state premiers modelling of the plan when it is done and prior to a Council of Australian Governments meeting next month.

“But the thing I want to put out it’s in the country’s interests, and it’s in the states’ interest, to get on board with this expert recommendation,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC television on Sunday, referring to the advice from the Energy Security Board.

The House of Representatives kicks off with private members’ business and the resumption of debate into improving the accountability of superannuation funds and the planned increase in the Medicare Levy to help fund the national disability insurance scheme.

But the upper house won’t sit. Instead public servants across all departments and agencies will face a week of public questioning through Senate estimates hearings.

Among Senate hearings on Monday, the day-to-day running of parliament will up for discussion, as will the departments of Prime Minister & Cabinet, Immigration and Border Protection and Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Other crucial hearings during the week will include Treasury on Wednesday when department boss John Fraser appears, coinciding with the release of the September consumer price index. Economists expect those figures could see the largest three-monthly jump in almost four years due to rising energy costs.