Green bank offered another bite at fossils

Energy Minister Angus Taylor says ruling out technologies is the wrong thing to do.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor says ruling out technologies is the wrong thing to do.

Australia's green bank has been offered a second chance to invest in fossil fuels as the climate wars continue in Canberra.

The federal government has redrafted rules to expand the remit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency after its first attempt was quashed by Labor and the Greens.

The regulations allow ARENA to invest in low emissions technologies including carbon capture and storage and clean hydrogen.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor delivered the political wedge ahead of a parliamentary sitting week.

"We're not building a nuclear generator tomorrow or anything like that, but it is about saying technology is changing fast and we need to keep a close eye on it," he told 2GB radio on Friday.

"You know, ruling things out is the wrong thing to do in the energy debate or any of these sorts of debates. As soon as you start ruling things out, you make life harder for everybody."

Environmental groups have described the move as an attack on clear energy funding and urged the Commonwealth to invest in renewables backed by storage.

Mr Taylor hammered home his "technology not taxes" emissions reduction mantra to justify the approach.

"It's time to ditch the political opportunism and scare campaigns ... and get on with looking at all technologies to ensure we can provide affordable, reliable energy as we bring our emissions down," he said.

Labor and the Greens could move another disallowance motion to reverse the expanded remit.

But their last attempt was only successful because One Nation leader Pauline Hanson missed the Senate vote.

It is unclear whether lightning would strike twice.

Pro-coal Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon was filthy at his colleagues when they torpedoed the investment changes the first time around.

He is urging the party to suck it up and support the expanded remit.

"Labor should just back whatever the government puts on the table. To do otherwise is to suggest we are not genuinely committed to action on climate change," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"We've got to back the things the government is prepared to support, from renewables right through to carbon capture and storage. And we should be able to consider the merits of nuclear in this country."

Australian Associated Press