Government backbenchers led by conservative Cory Bernardi have questioned the scope of a review of the Coalition’s climate-action policies.
The Government has set the terms of reference for the long-promised review, which includes consideration of an emissions intensity scheme for electricity generators.
That was “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard”, Senator Bernardi said fresh from a three-month secondment to the United Nation in New York.
“We fought and won an election on this. Why are we reopening it now,” he asked Sky News.
“The only thing it is going to do is cause division.”
An emissions intensity scheme would set a baseline for how much carbon dioxide a power station could emit for every unit of power generated, penalising those that breached their limit and rewarding cleaner models that emitted less.
Deputy Prime Minister leader Barnaby Joyce says the Coalition policy was quite clear – neither the Nationals nor the Liberals supported a carbon tax.
But there was potential for a scheme where power generators could pay for emissions above a particular level, he said.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who chairs the backbench committee on the environment, has welcomed the timely review and understands the minister can’t go into ruling things out.
But he is only interested in measures which drive down power prices.
“If it pushes electricity prices up this is the real concern I think every member of parliament should have,” Mr Kelly told ABC radio.