Australian shadow treasurer Angus Taylor has criticised the Labor government’s 43 percent emissions target, asking it to explain how it would ensure the needed power supply to businesses and homes.
The comment comes after thousands of homes on Australia’s east coast were plunged into darkness on Monday as electricity suppliers struggled to meet demand as the country teeters on the edge of an energy shortage.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) on June 14 confirmed that some energy generators had “revised their market availability” in NSW and Queensland due to a new $300/MWh price cap, a result of increased wholesale electricity prices.
Taylor told Sky News on Sunday that “there’s no question” about the increasing pressure on energy prices around the world and that it’s “a big challenge.”
“The point I’m making is that there are sensible actions that can be taken to alleviate those pressures,” he said.
Taylor denied that the Coalition should take any responsibility for the current electricity crisis, and instead attributed it to the incumbent Labor government, which he said has “consistently opposed getting more supply into the market” and “demonised traditional fuels.”
The former Minister for Energy and Emissions argued that the Coalition had successfully managed to contain gas prices in Australia in the lead-up to the election.
“We had worked hard over a long period of time, not to demonise gas producers, to make sure that there was a right system of carrots and sticks in place,” he said. “Carrots in that we worked with them to get more supply in the market … and sticks through the 80 GSM.”
“That flowed through to electricity prices. We saw an eight percent reduction in household electricity prices, 10 percent in small business, four percent in industry.”
As Labor is pushing for an ambitious 80 percent renewables target and 43 percent emissions reduction target by 2030, uprooting the former government’s 26-28 percent emissions reduction, Taylor asserted that the opposition did not believe the policy was deliverable within eight years.
“It’s always about how. We don’t commit to a target unless we know how we are going to do it,” he said.
“They haven’t explained how they’re going to firm it up. They’re saying they’re going to build a lot of transmission lines, but there are going to be extension cords without a PowerPoint.”
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on Sunday said that the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen and regulators are responsible for the current energy crisis.
“It was a failure of Chris Bowen in his response and the regulators. If they are saying the companies have gamed this, do you not think the companies were trying to game it when Angus Taylor was the minister in this space? Of course they were, but he was able to do it and keep the lights on,” Dutton told ABC Insiders on Sunday morning.
Dutton warned that the difficulty facing the energy market was one “of a night time,” but further noted that he’s not against investing in more renewable energy.
“It is not a problem occurring during the daytime,” he said.
On June 17, Bowen told a summit hosted by the Investor Group on Climate Change in Sydney that the government would provide businesses with the “framework, the certainty, and the partnership” to drive up investment in green energy.
“As we get on with unleashing investment, we will show that the world’s climate emergency is indeed Australia’s jobs opportunity,” he told the summit.