Energy minister revives ‘big stick’ laws

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)


Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is preparing to revive laws compelling power companies to cut wholesale prices and guarantee supply.

Mr Taylor said it was no surprise the “big stick” legislation would be a priority when parliament returned in July.

“It is our policy, we took it to the election, it has been through the partyroom, and it has been introduced to parliament,” he told The Australian on Wednesday.

The proposed laws – which the industry has labelled draconian, extreme and arbitrary – would give the federal government unprecedented powers to break up power companies.

After failing to pass its legislation in March, the coalition is trying again, now that it has a majority in the lower house and a less hostile Senate.

Buoyed by the government’s re-election, Resources Minister Matt Canavan has also claimed a mandate for coal-fired power.

“The government will progress investments in coal-fired power,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“That was what we took to the election, it was a key part of our policy package in North Queensland – that we would look at building a coal-fired power station in North Queensland.”

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has spoken out against the government’s plan to underwrite new power generation across the country.

“We actually live in a market economy – we don’t live in a state-controlled economy,” he said.

Senator Canavan is also pushing state governments in Victoria and NSW to open up more gas fields, in order to prevent further energy price hikes for households and manufacturers.

Meanwhile, energy companies have pushed back at the minister’s refusal to revive the National Energy Guarantee, and have challenged him to explain how Australia will meet its international climate targets.

Power bosses said Mr Taylor needed to show how emission reductions would be integrated into energy policy.


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