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Greens’ push to ban funding for coal-fired power threatens government control

“If the government won’t voluntarily rule out giving public money to fossil fuels, then parliament must stop them.”

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The bill in question would introduce new powers to break-up power companies. It has been watered down by Prime Minister Scott Morrison following staunch criticism from business groups and many Liberal MPs.

The Greens’ amendment has been drafted to prohibit taxpayer support for “high emissions generators” with a carbon dioxide output of 650kg per megawatt hour or above, effectively ruling out coal-fired power. No coal-fired station in Australia has an emissions intensity below that threshold.

It is understood the Greens have received positive signals from independents Andrew Wilkie and Kerryn Phelps. Julia Banks, Rebekha Sharkie and Cathy McGowan are said to be considering the amendment. Bob Katter will not support it.

The opposition does not support the government’s energy legislation. Asked about its position on the Greens’ amendment, Labor climate and energy spokesman Mark Butler made clear the party was opposed to new coal projects.

“Labor has also been clear we do not support any taxpayer money being spent to underwrite expensive, polluting and unnecessary new coal-fired power stations,” Mr Butler said.

Mr Bandt said he was “hopeful” of getting the required support from Labor and crossbenchers. If the efforts do pay off, the bill would be in the same position as the refugee medical transfer bill that was set to pass the lower house at the end of last year until the government wrapped up parliament early to avoid the humiliating outcome. The refugee bill could still pass when parliament returns this year.

“If this amendment passes, the government will have to decide whether it is more wedded to its so-called ‘big stick’ legislation or to putting public money into supporting coal-fired power stations,” Mr Bandt said.

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