As Crikey fearlessly predicted last week, the government is now backing away from a bipartisan Clean Energy Target to provide certainty for energy investors, in favour of a more coal-centric policy. The goal is to portray Labor as the party of letting the lights go out, complete with clunky nicknames such as "Blackout Bill" and "Brownout Butler" (sadly, we've had "No Coal Joel", not the more obvious "Flickering Lights Fitzgibbon"). Shorten and Butler, apparently, were in charge of Australian energy policy until a few months ago, so deserve the blame.

A deliberate attempt to avoid bipartisanship on energy will prolong exactly the uncertainty that has curbed investment in power generation capacity, exacerbating the growing under-supply of power. But, judge the government how you want, it's looking at a persistent six-point polling gap that would see it tossed out of office in a flash if it were forced to an election; desperate times call for desperate measures.