News National Electricity prices to be hot topic at COAG meeting in Hobart

Electricity prices to be hot topic at COAG meeting in Hobart

Malcolm Turnbull says there must be a system that delivers affordable and reliable electricity while meeting carbon emissions reduction targets. Photo: AAP
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The cost of electricity will be front and centre when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with Australia’s state and territory leaders in Hobart on Friday.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will be presented with chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s final report on the national energy system.

Dr Finkel briefed energy ministers of his review on Thursday.

It’s understood he will recommend a “clean energy target” — rather than an emissions intensity scheme or a carbon price — to help ease pressure on power prices while cutting carbon emissions and ensuring the grid is reliable.

While he’s not expected to recommend a specific figure for the target, he will argue the proposal would be enough to meet Australia’s Paris climate agreement commitments.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters the “important objective we have is to take the ideology and politics out of this issue”.

“As I have said for a long time now, my approach to energy policy … is grounded in economics and engineering, not in ideology, not in politics, not in partisanship,” he said ahead of the meeting of the nation’s leaders.

Host Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman will be pushing for his state to be the “nation’s renewable energy battery”, with a focus on wind farms.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will underline her state’s commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, but will have a state task force examine and roll out the Finkel report recommendations.

National security also on agenda

National security will also be high on the agenda, with leaders to be briefed by officials on the latest terrorism advice and discuss ways to tighten parole for people with links to terror.

Suggestions have ranged from allowing attorneys-general to intervene, to enabling ASIO and the AFP to make direct submissions to parole boards.

The prime minister, premiers and chief ministers will be greeted by a rally – dubbed the “People’s COAG” – involving union members and community leaders seeking policies to tackle rising inequality.

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