(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s new prime minister is under pressure not to dump emissions reduction targets, as he promises to send electricity prices “down, down, down”.
Scott Morrison is reportedly resisting his party’s calls to ditch a commitment to the Paris climate change targets because it could harm a free trade deal with Europe.
He’s under internal pressure to abandon the emissions reduction targets after last week’s controversial Liberal leadership turmoil.
Mr Morrison zeroed in on power prices, introducing new energy minister Angus Taylor as the “minister for getting electricity prices down”.
The two posed for photos on Tuesday with their fingers pointing downwards as the prime minister said “electricity prices are going to go down, down, down”.
Melissa Price has been handed the environment portfolio, with Mr Morrison saying on Monday he would leave climate change debates for “another day” as he was asked about its effect on drought.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on Tuesday congratulated Mr Morrison for securing the top job, saying he looked forward to working with the prime minister on a range of issues.
” … including the global campaign for action on climate change, the greatest threat facing Australia and all of your neighbours in the Pacific,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday the coalition will maintain the Paris commitment, despite uncertainty over how it will reach the goal to cut emissions to 26 per cent (from 28 per cent on 2005 levels) by 2030.
Internal division over the coalition’s National Energy Guarantee was one of the catalysts for the successful challenge to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.
The former prime minister was dumped despite withdrawing the Paris targets from the policy in a failed effort to placate rebel MPs.
“I have consistently said we can meet our Paris commitments, they are achievable, they are reasonable and I do think as a nation we should live up to the commitments we make,” Resources Minister Matt Canavan told reporters.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Morrison was right to stick with the target.
“Energy policy has taken down any number of conservative leaders and it’s been a tricky debate on all sides of politics,” Mr Shorten told ABC radio.
The Labor leader said he supported more renewable energy in Australia.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t be using coal-fired power, but I do believe renewable energy is the technology of the future,” Mr Shorten said.
Barnaby Joyce said reducing people’s power bills should be the government’s priority.
“I don’t care if its camel dung or coal, as long a power prices go down,” the Nationals MP told ABC radio on Tuesday.