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The prime minister Scott Morrison told the ABC Insiders program on Sunday that Australia would achieve net zero in the second half of the century, but declined to sign the government up to 2050.

Scott Morrison has walked back a declaration from last week that 1,000MW of new generation will be needed once the ageing Liddell coal plant leaves the system, and declined to sign up to a net zero target by 2050, because he is “more interested in the doing”.

As part of the government’s much vaunted “gas-led recovery”, the prime minister said last week in relation to the Liddell transition, “We estimate that some 1,000 MW of new dispatchable generation is needed to keep prices down.”

Morrison said “we”, meaning the government, intended “to do something about it” because the private sector had made various announcements but “committed to very few” generation options to fill the gap.

But on Sunday morning the prime minister told the ABC Insiders program “the thousand megawatts are already being made up in part by some investments which I believe definitely will go ahead” and the missing piece was “about 250 megawatts, or thereabouts”.