Tony Abbott fires warning shot at party leadership on energy
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has assured Coalition MPs that electricity customers were “through the worst” of the price spikes of recent years, as former prime minister Tony Abbott fired another warning shot over the government’s energy policy.
Mr Frydenberg told Liberal and Nationals colleagues that he expected prices to fall in Queensland and stay relatively flat in NSW and South Australia according to forecasts for the next pricing period from July.
The assurance came as several MPs expressed their concern about energy and Mr Abbott sought an assurance that the government’s policy would go back to the Coalition party room for a decision by all members.
The discussion was another sign of the strains within the federal Coalition as Mr Abbott and like-minded MPs agitate for investments in coal-fired power stations while most others back the National Energy Guarantee agreed by ministers and backbenchers last year.
Mr Frydenberg will take the policy to a meeting with his state and territory counterparts in the second week of August in an essential move to get their approval before the Guarantee can be imposed.
Mr Abbott made this an issue in the regular Tuesday party room meeting by asking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Frydenberg whether the plan would be put to the party room before it went to COAG.
At issue is whether backbenchers must approve the plan before the COAG meeting or whether the government already has that approval from meetings last year.
Mr Frydenberg responded to Mr Abbott by saying that the policy to be taken to the COAG meeting would be consistent with the party room agreements in the past.
Importantly, the Energy Minister said an agreement at COAG would lead to legislation being drafted and this would go back to the party room.
Mr Abbott then questioned the government’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030, a commitment he oversaw as prime minister but now questions out of concern at the cost.
Mr Frydenberg responded by saying the trajectory would be the “least-cost” option for the country.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
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