Good morning, early birds. The next COAG “meeting” is shaping up to be more of an all-in brawl after Labor state governments announced their acute displeasure with Malcolm Turnbull’s new energy plan, and the Yes vote is pulling ahead. It’s the news you need to know, with Max Chalmers.
STATES NEG ON TURNBULL
The Coalition’s national energy guarantee, which has quickly become known by its somewhat unfortunate acronym NEG, is receiving a cautious welcome from business and hostility from Labor state governments. Households are expected to save up to an average $2 per week under the NEG, though the government yesterday conceded detailed modelling had not been carried out.
The new energy policy has passed its first test, clearing the Coalition’s joint party room in spite of MPs Tony Abbott, George Christensen and Matt Canavan raising concerns about the emissions standards energy retailers will be forced to meet. According to Fairfax, however, other “pro-coal” MPs were satisfied by the plan’s emphasis on reliability and price.
That means Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest challenge is signing state premiers on at the next COAG meeting. Early signs are bad from Labor states in particular, with South Australian premier Jay Weatherill declaring the NEG “a complete victory for the coal industry” and Victoria’s Daniel Andrews accusing Turnbull of allowing Abbott to “junk Alan Finkel’s work”.
Their opposition is less than surprising given the plan would likely add pressure to the price of electricity in states with more ambitious renewable energy targets. As David Crowe notes in The Australian, elections are due in Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria over the next year, and Labor premiers may be calculating a brawl with the Liberal PM could play into their reelection strategies.
Finkel himself was more positive, describing the plan as “credible”.
“There’s always more than one way to skin a cat,” he said.
YES VOTE PULLING AHEAD
The Yes campaign for marriage equality appears to be on the verge of victory, with a Newspoll today indicating indicating 59% of those who have “voted” so far returned a “yes”. According to the poll, 38% of those who have taken part so far returned a no.
In better news for the No campaign, the poll also indicates a higher participation rate among older voters with 74% of those 65 or older having already mailed their response.
Still, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting 67.5% of the total eligible pool have returned their forms, attention is now turning to more detailed questions about legislating the results. Former prime minister John Howard continues to make interventions, this time warning religious freedoms will be imperilled by Labor’s decision to support Liberal MP Dean Smith’s private member’s bill.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Attorney-General George Brandis has told crossbenchers they will be asked to sit until Christmas eve if the Yes vote prevails in order to bring same-sex marriage into law.
RAQQA NEARLY CLEARED OF ISIS
Members of a coalition fighting to dislodge Islamic State from its global headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, say they have recaptured the city. Kurdish forces have raised their flag inside the city’s football stadium, though the US military has told reporters pockets of resistance still exist.
Around 300 jihadist fighters and 3500 civilians were recently evacuated from the town under a negotiated deal as US airstrikes helped overwhelm those who remained. Civilian deaths during the offensive are estimated to be between 1300 and 1800.
Raqqa was captured by Islamic State three years ago and has served as a symbolic and logistical headquarters, a base from which foreign attacks have been planned. Islamic State still has a foothold in Syria’s south-east but is under massive pressure from a range of groups including Russia, the US, Hezbollah, Kurdish fighters, and the Syrian army.
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Darwin: Noel Pearson speaks at the National Indigenous Education Forum.
Sydney: The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman releases annual complaints report, which will show a surge in complaints in response to the rollout of the NBN.
Sydney: Origin Energy holds its annual general meeting.
Canberra: Opposition workplace relations spokesperson Brendan O’Connor will address the National Press Club and outline a new Labor plan to fight sham enterprise agreements.
Canberra: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launches new periodical journal Australian Foreign Affairs.
Hobart: Former Greens leader Bob Brown will address the media after the High Court hands down its decision on his challenge to anti-protest laws.
Melbourne: The AFLW holds its draft after transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey was ruled ineligible to take part.
Beijing: The Chinese Communist Party holds its 19th congress, at which President Xi Jinping will outline his vision for the country.
Out of the ashes of failed attempts, finally a chance to put the climate wars behind us — Peter Martin (Sydney Morning Herald): “Malcolm Turnbull has found a scheme that will appeal to the backers of coal (because it won’t discriminate against it), to would-be electricity investors (who want to know what the rules are), to consumers worried about prices (because it will put the suppliers in charge of getting value for money), to households concerned about blackouts (because it will require retailers to concern themselves with reliability), and to his predecessor who signed Australia up the Paris emissions reduction target.”
Malcolm Turnbull finally wins his party room, voters a bigger challenge — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “Party room peace, and the pledge of a ‘national energy guarantee’, is delivered while cunningly minimising confrontation in the federal parliament. This is because the already-agreed to Paris emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent is the only part that actually has to be legislated at a federal level.”
Energy reform: Turnbull might win battle but climate war’s a long haul — Dennis Shanahan (The Australian $): “Initial support from industry and business for the prospect of reliability of supply and certainty will aid Turnbull’s policy credibility and help with a business settlement. The political fight, which lacks a dramatic centrepiece or the prospect of a legislative debate to draw sharp battlelines with Labor, is a more difficult and perilous endeavour.”
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