‘Out of touch’: NSW Energy Minister splits with federal colleagues on climate policy

Updated December 19, 2018 10:38:51

New South Wales Energy Minister Don Harwin has slammed his Federal Coalition colleagues as “out of touch” on energy and climate policies.

Key points:

  • Mr Harwin said the Morrison Government needed to end the “climate wars”
  • He said the State Government would be taking independent action after the National Energy Guarantee was ditched
  • The NSW Opposition said the op-ed was a “lengthy confession of failure” by the Berejiklian Government

Ahead of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of state and federal energy ministers in Adelaide today, Mr Harwin wrote an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review.

In it he claimed the Morrison Government’s policy changes in the area had jeopardised certainty and delayed investment in the sector.

He then told the Financial Review he believed Mr Morrison’s abandonment of carbon emission targets and the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) has inflated power prices.

“The Federal Government is out of touch on energy and climate policy … It’s time for them to change course,” Mr Harwin said.

The NSW Energy Minister urged the Morrison Government to “come to grips” with climate and energy policy.

He noted the State Government was happy with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to implement the NEG, before it became political poison.

“We need to end the ‘climate wars’ and put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology,” Mr Harwin said.

“That’s why New South Wales wants a sensible emissions policy to be embedded in the national electricity law, outside the high drama of the ‘Canberra bubble’.

“For that to happen NSW will move at COAG today that the Energy Security Board provide policy options to Ministers on how to achieve our net-zero by 2050 vision.

“This is the circuit-breaker needed.”

A confession of failure

In his op-ed, Mr Harwin also took a swipe at the Labor Party.

“Overly ambitious and uncoordinated targets set by Labor are as much a recipe for chaos as the absence of any orderly transitions plan,” Mr Harwin said.

The NSW Opposition spokesperson for Climate Change Adam Searle slammed Mr Harwin’s piece.

“What a joke, it is a lengthy confession of failure by the Berejiklian Government and its Energy Minister,” Mr Searle said.

“It reveals they clearly have no plan to tackle runaway energy policies, which they created through their mania for privatisation and deregulation of the retail energy market.”

Mr Searle said Mr Harwin’s criticisms of the Federal Government were well-founded, but that Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Government had “sat on their hands” and should have established their own energy targets.

“If the Federal Government lets Australia down, it’s incumbent to the states to act,” Mr Searle said.

Topics: energy, solar-energy, alternative-energy, electricity-energy-and-utilities, business-economics-and-finance, government-and-politics, federal-government, local-government, nsw

First posted December 19, 2018 10:03:49