Energy policy hangs in balance, as Senate debates euthanasia
Australian politics Energy policy hangs in balance, as Senate debates euthanasia
As parliament resumes, the Senate will debate a private memberâs bill to repeal ban on territoriesâ authority to legalise voluntary euthanasia
The Senate will debate a private memberâs bill this week to repeal the 1997 ban on Australiaâs territories having authority to legalise voluntary euthanasia.
The euthanasia bill has been given priority for the week, with the Senate starting its consideration of the bill on Tuesday, but it is still unclear whether the government will honour what Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has called a deal with him to also allow a vote in the lower house.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has ensured Coalition senators will be allowed to vote according to their conscience, though he says he is personally opposed to allowing voluntary euthanasia for the Northern Territory.
âIf the vote came on, if I was a senator, I would be voting against it,â he told ABC Alice Springs last week.Coalition âalarmedâ after students with Atars as low as 17.9 accepted into teaching Read more
Leyonhjelm has confirmed that his support for reviving the Australian Building and Construction Commission was traded for the government allowing his euthanasia bill to be debated.
It prompted the former prime mini ster Tony Abbott to say he was concerned that âsecret dealsâ were being done without the blessing of the party room.
But on Sunday evening Leyonhjelm said he was âannoyed what was a deal appears no longer to be a deal in the eyes of the governmentâ, referring to Turnbull refusing to commit to allow a lower house vote.
Leyonhjelm told ABCâs National Wrap there would be âvery serious consequencesâ if Turnbull reneged, threatening to vote against the government on bills that relate to industrial relations, superannuation governance and fees for NBN customers.
The Liberal Democrat senator said he was âreasonably comfortableâ the bill had the numbers to pass the Senate, estimating its support at 40 to 42 votes. It needs 39 to pass.
On Monday the Liberal leader of the house, Christopher Pyne, said the government had not supported bringing the bill for a vote in the Senate and the deal was only âif he managed to get a debate on euthanasia tha t it would be a conscience matter for the Coalitionâ.
âIf it passes the Senate then it will come down to the House of Representatives ... and weâll have to decide [whether to allow a vote] at the time,â he told ABCâs AM.
Meanwhile, the Turnbull governmentâs signature energy policy â" the national energy guarantee (NEG) â" will be at the mercy of the Coalition party room this week, after the states and territories offered their in-principle support for the policy last week.
The party room will discuss the policy on Tuesday and the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, says he is confident his colleagues will endorse the policy, despite some backbenchers threatening to vote against it.
Several high-profile MPs, including Abbott and the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, have threatened to break ranks and scuttle the plan.
However, Frydenberg says he believes there is strong support for the policy in Coalition ranks, and he has chastised La bor states such as Victoria for making âcrass, calculatingâ last-minute demands to reshape the policy last week.Josh Frydenberg says $444m reef grant 'not unusual' as Labor demands answers Read more
But the government may face another hurdle on the Neg in the Senate.
The Greens say they are one vote away from securing Senate support to compel the government to produce the Energy Security Boardâs full Neg modelling.
The government has not released the full modelling yet, despite the ESB claiming in October, 2017 that ACIL Allen modelling showed annual household bills would be $100-115 lower under the Neg.
Last month more than 20 energy researchers called for the full modelling to be released, saying they were concerned the carbon accounting and reliability mechanisms of the Neg were poorly understood and had not received adequate review by independent experts.
The Greens say Labor, the Centre Alliance senators Rex Pat rick and Stirling Griff, and independent senator Tim Storer have agreed to support the push to compel the government to produce the modelling in the Senate.
âMalcolm Turnbull is promising a $550 power bill drop from the NEG, exactly the same amount Tony Abbott promised from the repeal of the carbon price, which led instead to a doubling of wholesale power prices,â the Greens MP Adam Bandt said. âThe government has only produced a spreadsheet and chart pack, which really doesnât cut it.
âWe need to see the full modelling behind these outlandish claims before decisions get made about the NEG.â
The Greens say the timing of the push has only been complicated by the Senateâs decision to grant Leyonhjelmâs euthanasia bill precedence.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this reportTopics
- Australian politics
- Assisted dying
- Malcolm Turnbull
- Coali tion
- David Leyonhjelm
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