PM Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly dumped the emissions target in the NEG. Picture Kym Smith
PM Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly dumped the emissions target in the NEG. Picture Kym Smith

Turnbull backflips on emissions as Dutton challenge emerges

AN INTERNAL coalition uprising has forced Malcolm Turnbull to dump plans to legislate cuts in carbon emissions.

The Prime Minister is now planning to control emissions by regulation instead - an option he condemned only days ago.

A 26 per cent reduction target was established by the 2015 Paris Agreement and settled when Tony Abbott was Prime Mimister. It is an integral part of Mr Turnbull's National Energy Guarantee.

Mr Turnbull now looks to be dumping the target from his energy policy as he faces the prospect of a rebellion in the House of Representatives and running battles in the Senate.

But the decision makes it more likely the NEG will be implemented.

The Prime Minister will not just be embarrassed by the policy retreat. He will have to explain how it was just days ago he condemned the regulatory approach as a bypassing of parliament.

"Labor wants to have it done by regulation so that the Parliament would not have a voice," Mr Turnbull said on Tuesday. "Now, we believe in democracy.

"We believe the Parliament should have a say in this and so if we legislate that, then a subsequent government - whether it's of our side of politics or the other - would have to persuade both houses of parliament to make any change to it, and that is a great security."

Senior ministers Friday rallied to support Mr Turnbull's leadership after suggestion former Prime Minister was supporting a challenge.

"Anyone who listens to Tony Abbott has rocks in his head," said one minister.

However, the NEG policy, strongly supported by business and industry, was looking like a victim of the unrest.

Leadership rumours swirled on Friday with 2GB Ray Hadley saying there will "100 per cent" be a move against the PM in the next two weeks.

Coalition MPs hosed down speculation and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has continued to deny he would challenge for the leadership.

Now Mr Turnbull appears to be bending to his party's concerns about the policy.

Instead of including an emissions reduction target in the NEG, it will now be set via a ministerial order and only if the change won't increase power prices, according to The Australian.

Critics of Mr Turnbull's policy, including former prime minister Tony Abbott have complained that the NEG won't do anything to bring down power prices.


Another face-off? Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull at loggerheads over energy policy — again. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Another face-off? Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull at loggerheads over energy policy — again. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Mr Abbott wrote an opinion piece for News Corp newspapers laying out his vision for cutting power prices, including dumping the Paris climate targets to which he signed up.

He is one of at least two coalition MPs who promised to vote against the guarantee, but other sceptics said they could be convinced if prices are lowered.

The guarantee forces emissions to be cut by 26 per cent but backbencher George Christensen will only vote for a 17 per cent target, while Labor wants 45 per cent.

Western Australian Liberal MP Andrew Hastie is also among those reserving their right to cross the floor.

Others publicly raising concerns include Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Tony Pasin, Barry O'Sullivan, Kevin Andrews, Andrew Gee and Barnaby Joyce.

While Mr Turnbull managed to get his policy approved by the coalition party room on Tuesday, it's become clear that it will be a challenge to get it passed through parliament.

The policy also needs to be signed off by the states and territories, with Labor-controlled states Victoria and Queensland expressing concerns that the emissions reduction target was not high enough and should be able to be changed more easily. - With AAP

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