He gave the fund a new name, the Climate Solutions Fund, and committed to give it $200 million a year from 2021 to 2030.
The government said the $3.5 billion in combined measures would ensure Australia met its Paris commitment to cut emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Labor accused the Prime Minister of cynical politics, driven by the scare the Coalition received when it lost the Wentworth byelection in October and the subsequent heavy loss suffered by the Victorian Liberals in the state election.
Labor vowed to abolish the Climate Solutions Fund if it won the election and pursue its policies of direct action for the energy sector, a baseline and credit scheme for heavy polluters, as well as vehicle emissions standards for the transport sectors and land clearing restrictions for agriculture.
It said the fund was part of the “fig leaf” direct action policy devised when Tony Abbott was leader. It noted emissions went up under the ERF and that Mr Abbott did not believe in climate change.
“This is the policy that you have when you don’t want to do anything … ,” said Labor Leader Bill Shorten.
Labor said a pledge to cut emissions was inconsistent with plans to underwrite the construction of new coal-fired power stations, which is also government policy.
The $1.38 billion Mr Morrison will commit to Snowy 2.0 will be an equity investment, meaning it will not detract from the budget bottom line.
After Mr Turnbull announced the project,the federal government spent $6.2 billion buying out co-owners NSW and Victoriaand is now the sole owner of the asset.
The Prime Minister said a business case for the expanded project had been completed and showed it was viable. The case is yet to be released.
“Following Snowy Hydro Board’s final investment decision on 12 December 2018, the Government has reviewed the project’s business case and is satisfied that the project stacks up and will benefit energy consumers and the Snowy Mountains region,” he said.
“Snowy 2.0 is shovel-ready, which is why it’s one of the first cabs off the rank in our next tranche of energy projects to underwrite power generation so we can make electricity more affordable and reliable.”
Later this week, Mr Morrison is expected to devote about $100 million to upgrading hydroelectric output in Tasmania. This will complement the pledge to fast-track the development of the Marinus Link.
“Marinus Link will enable over 400 megawatts of existing dispatchable, reliable generation to be transmitted here into Victoria; power currently unavailable due to limited Bass Link interconnector capacity,” he said.
This was enough to power 400,000 homes.
“Through the Marinus Link, the Battery of the Nation is also expected to reduce national emissions by 25 million tonnes by 2030.”
Labor also supports the link and business groups welcomed what they said was a “step towards a more stable and reliable energy system that allows Australia to meet its international commitments”.
“Investing in the technology that we know works to unlock the energy supply that we know we already have is sensible step. For mainland Australians it means more supply and greater reliability, while for Tasmanians it unlocks the opportunity to capitalise on their existing and potentially new energy resources,” said Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott.
Mr Morrison has flicked the switch to climate and energy policy this week after two weeks of browbeating Labor over border security failed to bear fruit.
The latest fortnightly Newspoll released on Monday showed no change with Labor leading the Coalition by 53 per cent to 47 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.