Key crossbench senators are skeptical about the Turnbull government’s $2 billion plan to expand the iconic Snowy Hydro scheme.
The prime minister was out inspecting the project on Thursday, which could be in line for a 50 per cent expansion – the first since it was completed in the 1970s.
Work will commence with a feasibility study with hopes a new series of tunnels and power stations could boost capacity by up to 2,000 megawatts – enough to power an extra 500,000 homes.
But Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm is not so sure about the hefty price-tag – especially after the federal government indicated it could go it alone.
‘I think it’s being rash with taxpayers’ money,’ he told ABC radio on Friday.
‘It’s policy on the run.’
Ever since the recent South Australian blackouts the federal coalition had been looking to shift blame.
‘Now we’re at the crunch stage and they’re scrambling to catch up.’
His crossbench colleague Senator Nick Xenophon said work wouldn’t be complete for at least five years.
‘This country cannot wait five years given the energy crisis we’re facing now,’ he said.
He questioned whether it was merely a case of one-upmanship after South Australia’s energy policy announcement and warned it could face hurdles in the Senate.
‘At this stage the details are incredible sketchy,’ he said.
Climate groups were pleased with the announcement, but were still taking a wait-and-see approach.
Labor gave cautious support to the project but opposition leader Bill Shorten wanted more details about the cost, technical solutions and how long it would take.