Malcolm Turnbull Fights for Survival
The Prime Minister announced a new energy policy designed to save his government and his leadership.
The majority of the parliamentary party became disillusioned with his leadership after the Longman and Braddon by-elections.
The reality dawned that Turnbull was unlikely to win the next election without a significant change of tack.
This disillusion festered into murmurings about a leadership challenge as TonyAbbott gathered together a group of conservative recalcitrants who threatened to cross the floor to vote against the National Energy Guarantee.
Also on Sunday the Federal Council of the National Party passed a resolution which called on the government to build a high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal fired power generator and to lift the embargo on nuclear power generation.
It is in this context that the Prime Minister announced his new electricity policy.
In a video posted to Facebook, he also revealed a plan to impose default energy prices on power companies, as well as tough penalties for providers that failed to bring costs down.
“We’ll set a price expectation which should be the most anyone pays. And so, through more competition and all our other changes, that price will come down,” the Prime Minister said in his Facebook post.
“If companies don’t pass them on, the ACCC will put them on notice. And if the prices remain too high, we’ll implement the toughest penalties until you’re getting value for money.
“We will not hesitate to use a big stick, as we did with gas, to make sure the big companies do the right thing by you, their customers.”
Internal division over the National Energy Guarantee has fuelled talk of a possible leadership challenge, with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton seeking to play down speculation on Saturday.
“In relation to media stories today, just to make it very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the government,” he said on Twitter.
However, by 6.00 pm on Sunday, Channel Nine’s Chris Uhlmann was reporting that Mr Turnbull would face a challenge before the end of the year.
“9NEWS has confirmed Mr Dutton has told colleagues he is contemplating a challenge but wants to hear the details of the Prime Minister’s recast energy plan and see how it plays with Coalition MPs before making a decision.
Mr Dutton’s supporters admit Mr Turnbull has a clear majority in the Liberal party room but one minister said: “It’s hard to know what your level of support is until you fire the gun.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten, never one to miss a trick, has announced a carbon copy of the government’s new policy.
Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler was quick to tell the media that Labor’s energy policy would reduce the average household power bill by $165 a year.
This Week Should See the End of Corporate Tax Cuts for Big Companies
The government’s plan for tax cuts for big corporates will be introduced into the Senate for the first time this week.
At this stage no-one expects it to pass the Senate and the current conversation is where the government will go next.
The fate of the legislation was sealed last week when Pauline Hanson reiterated her opposition to the cuts, joining other crossbenchers Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick from Centre Alliance, Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer.
The Treasurer has advised that the unpopular tax cuts will go to the Senate in full.
He has admitted that they are politically unpopular, as demonstrated in the Longman by-election, but maintains that they are economically sensible.
“It’s the right economic policy. The politics is a separate issue. Governments always have to manage politics,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio.
But, on Saturday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Labor had used the tax cuts effectively against the Coalition in the Longman by-election.
“We shouldn’t give them the ammunition to throw back at us,” he told the Seven Network.
“We are taking that policy in its entirety back to the Senate as soon as we can,” Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie told the National Press Club.
Backbenchers want the cuts to go to a vote in the Senate and dump them if they fail, but Mr Morrison wouldn’t be drawn on whether the government would shelve the policy if it was voted down.
Liberal backbenchers Tony Pasin and Jim Molan questioned the timing of the policy after revelations of misconduct in the banking sector.
“By doing it now at the same time as the royal commission, we’re making a rod for our back,” Senator Molan told 2GB.
It is likely that, after the corporate tax cuts for companies with turnovers more than $50 million are rejected, the government will dump them rather than take them to the next election.
However it is also possible they will replace them with other forms of tax relief such as an investment allowance of the type introduced by President Trump in the United States.
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