The lead front page item in today’s Australian reports Abbott as indicating publicly that he will not support a clean energy target and that he advocates subsidies cease to be paid on wind and solar projects. The Australian also publishes an article by Abbott explaining his position. Both articles are attached. Abbott’s own article seems well written and, for the increasing number of sceptics on climate policy, it contains a sensible approach to energy policy which, inter alia, would ensure a reduction in electricity prices.
This is not an open political challenge to Turnbull as PM. Abbott does not have the numbers to do that. But it is a challenge to a major policy enunciated by Turnbull and it has appeared so far, his Cabinet. Turnbull’s initial response is set out below. It appears unchanged – see below. But it is likely that he will attempt to moderate the CET and freeze the renewable energy target of 23.5% when its current objective finishes in 2020 (presumably if reached by then). However, even with a moderated version, it would risk splitting the party and the Coalition because there is now more widespread serious concern about the adverse economic effects of proceeding without change. That would almost certainly result in a number voting against a CET. If the next Newspoll shows another fall, it is likely to increase the support for Abbot’s climate policy, both within the party and the electorate, and increase the pressure on Turnbull to change his policies. As I have argued for some time, the “solution” to improving the Coalition’s electoral chances is to replace Turnbull asap.