Turnbull zeros in on cutting power costs

Malcolm Turnbull is facing more pressure on his signature energy plan from some disgruntled coalition colleagues on issues such as its emissions target.

Labor, however, is not convinced he has done enough to ease tensions over the plan in his partyroom.

The prime minister on Sunday promised to use a “big stick” against power companies that fail to deliver cheaper prices and make it easier for Australians to know when they are paying too much.

He has promised to impose a “price expectation” on energy retailers to bring down electricity bills.

Power companies that don’t pass on savings will be put on notice by the competition watchdog and face the “toughest penalties” if they don’t turn things around.

“What we’re doing is focused on price,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in central western NSW.

“We are working with our colleagues to ensure that every element, including the National Energy Guarantee, is going to work even better to deliver lower energy prices. That’s what it’s all about.”

Critics are deeply unhappy with a 26 per cent carbon emission reduction target contained in the plan and are especially miffed by the prospect it could be cemented in legislation.

In an attempt to ease these concerns, Mr Turnbull is expected to propose the country’s carbon reduction targets be set by regulation instead.

He also said that under a new law, any government that wanted to change the target in the future would have to inform Australians of what impact it may have on their power bill.

Mr Turnbull is believed to have briefed his high-ranking colleagues about the latest adjustments over dinner at the cabinet room in Parliament House on Sunday, after some of them learnt of them through his Facebook page.

Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler, outlining his own party’s plan to reduce power prices on Sunday, said the latest commitments had been driven by “chaos and division” in the coalition and were unlikely to last.

“The life expectancy of so called rock solid policy commitments by Malcolm Turnbull is about 72 hours,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

“Malcolm Turnbull is heading a government that is eating itself on power.”

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