CAPITULATION: Malcolm Turnbull ditches plans to legislate for emissions targets

Photo: Stefan Postles / Getty Images.

  • Malcolm Turnbull has announced another change in energy policy, ditching plans to introduce legislation designed to ensure Australia meets its commitments to emission reductions under the Paris Agreement.
  • It comes amid a mounting air of crisis surrounding Turnbull’s leadership.

Malcolm Turnbull has capitulated to rebel conservative MPs on energy policy, abandoning plans for legislation to mandate carbon emissions reductions to meet commitments in the Paris Agreement.

The prime minister announced this morning that he would not be putting the emissions component of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) to the parliament because it doesn’t enjoy the support of his party.

It is another dramatic blow to Turnbull’s authority in a mounting air of crisis around his leadership, and a victory for the backbench rebels led by Tony Abbott threatening to cross the floor on laws mandating emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement.

Turnbull said: “It is clear that in the absence of bipartisan support, the legislation to move forward with the emissions component of the national energy guarantee will not be able to pass the House of Representatives. Now, in politics you have to focus on what you can deliver and that’s what we’ve done and we’ll continue to do.”

He added: “We are not going to present a bill into the House of Representatives until we believe it will be carried.

He insisted “our energy policy remains the same”, but added “we obviously need the support of sufficient of our colleagues to get it passed and that means, you know, substantially all of them.”

Over the weekend in a scramble to shore up party support, Turnbull proposed a new approach that involved having the emissions target set by regulation rather than legislation.

The rebel MPs were opposed to this solution too. Ostensibly they are arguing a future Labor government could dramatically increase the emissions reduction target but it increasingly apparent that they are determined to undermine Turnbull’s leadership.

Around 10 or as many as 12 MPs have threatened to cross the floor over energy policy.

Sky News reported this morning that senior Liberal National Party officials in Queensland are urging MPs to turn against Turnbull and support Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton as an alternative leader, warning that the Coalition faces widespread seat losses in a general election under the Prime Minister’s leadership.

Turnbull insisted this morning he still had Dutton’s support as leader. There is no challenge to Turnbull’s leadership at present and it is unclear how much support Dutton might have in the event of a spill. Dutton arrived late to a gathering of ministers in Canberra last night and has not ruled out a challenge.

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