Cabinet ministers rally behind Malcolm Turnbull over climate and energy policy

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Cabinet ministers rally behind Malcolm Turnbull over climate and energy policy

Christensen said he had no intention of voting for a clean energy target that penalised coal and neither would the bulk of the National party.

Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday left ample room to move to placate internal opponents.

If he does, Mr Frydenberg runs the risk of putting Labor offside - particularly if the policy is too coal-friendly - and dashing the chance of the major parties striking compromise and ending the climate policy wars.

"What Australians want is national policy certainty so we can have lower electricity prices".

"The Abbott-Turnbull wars are back", he told reporters. Finance minister Mathias Cormann, speaking on ABC 24, called Tuesday "a good meeting" and an "important discussion", not biting when posed questions about reports of one Coalition MP reportedly telling Fairfax "Malcolm could lose his leadership over this".

The energy crisis has crept up on Australia, despite its rich endowment of coal and gas, as states have promoted rooftop solar and wind power in the absence of stable carbon policy at a federal level, and coal- and gas-fired plants have shut.

The tone of the meeting was described as "inquiring" and "business-like".

As tempers frayed, a frustrated Mr Turnbull took an apparent swipe at his predecessor for reducing climate policy debate to "glib" slogans on Wednesday.

"He is simply out to destroy Turnbull but he's damaging himself.it shows that his prime ministership was an absolute farce." the figure said. But this was not borne out in Tuesday's special party room meeting.

Conservative MPs said after the meeting that about 20 MPs bluntly opposed Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's proposal for a clean energy target or raised significant concerns about the proposal in a clear message about the need to keep incentives for coal power.

A key issue will be where the government, which is disposed to adopt the Finkel plan, sets the threshold. These MPs have expressed concern that the CET will disadvantage coal.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly says he would not support a benchmark emission target of 0.6 tonnes per megawatt hour - the level used by Dr Finkel to model economic effects - while former cabinet minister Eric Abetz hit out at what he labelled "creative assumptions" in the report.

"Given the history of climate policy in this place, given we've got the Labor party pushing 50% renewable energy targets. given we've got some Labor MPs talking about no more coal-fired power at all - how are we, honestly, going to have policy stability?" the outspoken MP told Sky News.

Mr Turnbull stressed to his party room that the CET did not prohibit the construction of new coal fired power stations. The country was blessed with enough coal to satisfy our needs as well as the needs of many other nations for endless years to come, it seemed.

A clearly irritated Mr Joyce said "Mr Abbott is entitled to his opinion".

The review, in fact, finds power prices would be lower under a CET than compared to a business-as-usual scenario and predicts coal would play a larger role in power generation through to 2030.

At one point he asked whether the government could buy the closed Hazelwood power station to which the energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, said it was being dismantled "as we speak",' Ms Chan wrote.

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