Scott Morrison open to royal commission into energy sector
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Scott Morrison open to royal commission into energy sector

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has an open mind about the possibility of a royal commission into the energy sector, an idea floated by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton during his abortive push for the Liberal leadership.

Mr Morrison said he did not want a royal commission "at this point" but would consider it because he agreed with the argument that power companies were as bad as the banks.

The banking royal commission, long opposed by Mr Morrison as treasurer in the Turnbull government before it was established in a major policy u-turn, has exposed shocking misconduct in the sector and damaged the reputations of some of Australia's biggest companies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is open to the idea of a royal commission into energy companies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is open to the idea of a royal commission into energy companies.Credit:Peter Rae

Asked whether he agreed with Mr Dutton's idea of an energy royal commission, Mr Morrison told radio station 3AW on Monday morning: "No, not at this point. I'm open to it, though, and I'll look at it."

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He linked it to regrets about opposing the banking inquiry, saying he had failed to understand it had value even while the government was legislating to fix problems in the scandal-plagued sector.

"Where I failed was to properly understand the real pain people had been feeling about being treated so badly," the Prime Minister said.

Amid high energy prices and a shift to renewable energy, the government has been vocal in its criticisms of energy companies and state governments, which they accuse of driving up costs.

Mr Morrison has also threatened to deregister the CFMMEU, saying the government was looking at options to eliminate the "out of control" union.

His comments came after CFMMEU Victorian state secretary John Setka posted a photo to Twitter of his children with a message targeting the government's Australian Building and Construction Commission. The children held a sign saying "Go get f---ed".

"This is the straw that breaks the camel's back. These guys are already demonstrating their lawlessness and their thuggery, their brutality, their threats," Mr Morrison said, challenging Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to cut ties with the union.

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"The process is through the legislation and the powers that might need to be created under legislation or regulatory powers that we can look at."

Mr Setka has since issued a mea culpa and deleted the photo, saying it was an "emotional Father's Day after a tough year on family".

In a separate interview on Monday, Mr Morrison insisted that staying in the Paris climate agreement would not have any impact on power prices and was a "completely separate" issue to the government's efforts to reduce Australians' cost of living.

Under its commitment to historic global accord, the government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2030 but currently has no policy to achieve the cuts.

Mr Morrison told radio station 2GB he was focused on getting electricity prices down and questioned if a "bit of paper sitting somewhere else on the other side of the world" would have an impact.

"I'm not convinced changing it makes any difference one way or the other ... That's the bottom line. We met the first round of targets in a canter and this next one is out to 2030. Now, that discussion isn't going to change anybody's electricity prices. And that's what I'm focused on. I'm not a climate warrior," he said.

"They're two separate issues. They're completely separate issues. You've got climate policies which have been running now for some time and that's why we've met all of those targets in a canter. What I'm doing is separating those issues out."