Tony Abbott has warned his Liberal colleagues the “wheel has turned full circle” on climate policy and compared the push for a national energy guarantee to the party’s destabilising 2009 debate on an emissions trading scheme.
The former prime minister pointed to internal divisions about the then-Labor government’s emission trading scheme, which led to him successfully challenging Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberal leadership.
“Does the Liberal Party, nine years on, realise the wheel has turned full circle and we are back to where we were in late 2009, with Malcolm Turnbull trying to do a deal with the Labor Party on emissions reduction?” Mr Abbott told The Australian on Tuesday.
“It’s not a circle you can square with the Labor Party … it is a fight that has to be won.
“There can be no consensus on climate change … you either win or lose … and at the moment we are losing.”
Mr Abbott’s comments come a day after he said he was available if his party wanted him to lead again and ahead of a speech to climate sceptic think tank, the Australian Environment Foundation, on Tuesday night.
The federal government is negotiating with the states on its national energy guarantee, which is designed to ensure reliable and affordable power while also setting emission reduction targets.
But Mr Abbott warns Australia is “sleepwalking” to losing industries because of the policy – which will be put to an energy ministers’ meeting on August 10 – arguing it prioritises cutting emissions over generating cheaper power.
However, steelmaker BlueScope, resources giant BHP and the minerals, farming and business lobbies have all called on MPs to support the NEG.
Mr Abbott is among a small group of Coalition MPs who have spoken out against the NEG, which is backed by a majority of government MPs.
“The government is kidding us when it says that it’s all about reducing price when there’s an emissions reduction target and a reliability target but not a price target,” he told The Australian.