Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has urged state and territories who want higher emissions reduction targets to “get back to reality”.
The sentiment comes after NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin – a fellow Liberal – used an opinion piece to accuse the federal government of being “out of touch” on climate and energy policy.
Mr Taylor said ministers pushing for higher emissions targets are the ones who don’t understand what matters to people.
“We’re facing people who just aren’t in touch with everyday Australians, that’s what I find extraordinary,” he told 2GB Radio on Thursday.
He said in the electricity sector, Australia will meet its emissions reduction targets for 2030 years ahead of the deadline and he’s confident broader targets will be reached.
“We should be talking about getting prices down, keeping the lights on, making sure we’re keeping manufacturers in business … not talking about higher targets when we know we’re doing well.”
Mr Taylor said that’s what people are talking about in his electorate of Goulburn.
“It’s time that those in those Labor states and others who are arguing for these crazy targets, reckless targets, (to) get back to reality, talk to some real people, and get on with the job of doing the real work.”
In a piece published in The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday, Mr Harwin called on the federal government to end the “climate wars” and put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology.
He then tried to get his counterparts from across Australia to discuss putting an emissions obligation into national energy policy at a meeting in Adelaide.
Mr Taylor refused to add it to the Council of Australian Governments agenda.
The stoush comes as Mr Taylor also urged states and territories to protect Australians from poorly installed rooftop solar panels, after an audit found at least a fifth of inspected units were unsafe.
The federal energy minister highlighted the “severity of the issue” in a letter to his state and territory colleagues last week.
“This is a rapidly growing industry and we can’t risk people’s lives,” he told The Australian on Thursday.
A national audit of the Renewable Energy Target found between 21 and 26 per cent of rooftop solar units inspected each year since 2001 had faulty wiring and unsecured panels.
State and territory energy ministers reportedly refused to discuss the issue when they met on Wednesday.
But Mr Harwin said they noted it was “incredibly important” and that another COAG group focused on workplace safety is looking at the issue.
The federal government did have a win at the meeting, with ministers agreeing to changes to the National Electricity Law to add a Retailer Reliability Obligation.
Under the obligation – expected to kick off in July – power companies will be forced to demonstrate they have entered into sufficient contracts for dispatchable power to cover their share of peak demand.