Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is confident Australians want his government to prioritise cutting power prices over reducing carbon emissions.
“The people of Australia want to see their power bills come down, and they want to see the government take whatever measure possible to do that,” he told the ABC on Sunday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared the coalition government’s National Energy Guarantee is dead, and ruled out enshrining Australia’s Paris Agreement climate change commitments in law.
He will disown most of the policy in a partyroom meeting when parliament resumes this week, but wants to keep its reliability guarantee, default prices and measures to add new generation.
Mr Frydenberg says nobody is more disappointed than him, as the former energy minister, that the NEG has been laid to rest.
He said the government has policies and a track record for bringing down emissions, but stressed reducing power costs was more important.
“What you will hear from us, which you will not hear from the Labor Party, is that we will put reducing people’s power bills first, over emissions,” he said.
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said the government has walked away from any attempt to agree to a bipartisan investment framework, as business had wanted, that would act against its power costs goal.
“Households will end up paying the price,” he told Sky News.
The opposition will now propose its own energy policy before the nation next goes to the polls by next May.
Mr Butler said the policy would involve a sector-based approach to bringing down emissions, with each industry subject to a different set of rules, akin to what Labor brought forward at the 2016 election.
“Different sectors have different obligations and different opportunities,” he said.
“In due course, over coming months, we’ll again put out a very detailed policy that I guess makes it very clear what we want to do, sector by sector, in this area.”