News National Shorten holds fire on backing PM’s energy plan

Shorten holds fire on backing PM’s energy plan

The case is further evidence of how hard it is to compare energy prices.
Bill Shorten has reserved judgement on the PM's energy plan. Photo: AAP
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Bill Shorten wants to know what deals Malcolm Turnbull has done with his own backbench before deciding whether to support the national energy guarantee.

The prime minister got his signature energy policy through the coalition party room on Tuesday, despite opposition from a small group of MPs.

But the guarantee is now likely to need Labor’s support to pass parliament if a number of coalition MPs choose to vote against it.

“We will consider whatever the government deals have done to keep their own people momentarily happy, or not in an open state of rebellion,” Labor leader Mr Shorten told reporters on Wednesday.

“My opposite number wants a medal because he got a majority of his own people to support him, it’s almost like he climbed Mt Everest.”

Tony Abbott, George Christensen and Andrew Hastie have reserved their right to cross the floor and vote against the policy.

Others publicly raising issues include Craig Kelly, Tony Pasin, Eric Abetz, Barry O’Sullivan, Kevin Andrews and Andrew Gee, while Barnaby Joyce has signalled specific amendments he wants to see.

With a tight majority in the lower house, questions are being raised about whether the policy can make it over its next hurdle.

Commonwealth legislation is expected to be introduced to parliament before the end of next week.

Mr Turnbull is reportedly considering further legislation to keep internal critics on side and met with five of those MPs late on Tuesday.

Those critics want legislation to include a mechanism to keep prices down, separate to the national energy guarantee.

ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury questioned whether the government could get it through, saying the final outcome could come down to how the federal Labor votes.

“A handful (of coalition MPs) indicated they may cross the floor and given the relatively close numbers, it does beg the question,” Mr Rattenbury told AAP.

After Mr Turnbull secured party room support for the plan, state and territory ministers agreed in a phone hook-up on Tuesday night to put draft state legislation out for consultation from Wednesday morning.

The ACT, Victoria and Queensland governments have so far refused to give their support for the energy plan due to concerns about emissions reduction targets.

The draft laws would exclude Western Australia and the Northern Territory from the whole scheme, including the emissions reduction target rather than just the reliability requirement as had been previously thought.