Tony Abbott says Liberal backbenchers could cross the floor to vote against their own government’s national energy guarantee.
The former prime minister has been campaigning to build a new coal-fired power station and is ramping up his efforts to change the coalition’s energy plans.
“I hope it doesn’t come to questions of crossing the floor, I really do. It’s not something that any Liberal would lightly do,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio on Wednesday.
“But I don’t think we can be expected to support a policy that will continue to drive prices up and which will deny our industries the affordable 24/7 power they need for jobs to continue.”
Mr Abbott and several other pro-coal MPs spoke up in the coalition party room on Tuesday, pushing for the national energy guarantee to focus less on emissions.
“I think there’s been a little bit too much taking the back bench for granted on energy policy,” Mr Abbott told 2GB.
After rising power prices due to retailers price-gouging, generators gold-plating their network and the sudden shutdown of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, the government has been under pressure to come up with a solution.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is taking the national energy guarantee to the states for their agreement but Mr Abbott wants MPs to have a say on the final deal in the party room before it goes to parliament.
He also criticised Mr Turnbull’s handling of the party room because, he says, backbenchers have to wait until the end to get their questions in.
“It’s a fundamental failure of process, stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room,” he said.
The coalition policy is “technology neutral”, meaning it does not subsidise any particular form of generation, while requiring generators to deliver affordable and reliable power that meets emissions targets.