Libs told to ‘stay out of’ National Party’s Game of Thrones
The Nationals' Matt Canavan has warned the Liberal Party against lecturing its Coalition partner over leadership disputes, given its own recent history of knifing prime ministers.
Senator Canavan, who until last week sat in Cabinet as Resources Minister, also condemned moderate city Liberals, accusing them of going against federal government policy on coal.
And he blasted Labor's Anthony Albanese for saying new coal-fired power stations were as likely as "unicorns".
During a meeting of Coalition MPs in Canberra yesterday, Deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg said "internal issues" were eclipsing their achievements and "historic moments" such as the address to parliament by Indonesia's president Joko Widodo, which had showcased the two nation's co-operation on foreign affairs, trade and security.
The Treasurer told the Coalition meeting "that historic moment didn't feature at all" on the evening TV news.
Accomplishments such as balancing the budget and overseeing a 35 per cent fall in wholesale power prices were also being overshadowed.
"We must all focus on those achievements and our policies and plans going forward and put internal issues of recent days behind us," Mr Frydenberg said.
His comments followed more than a week of open warfare in the National Party as former leader Barnaby Joyce and his backers, including Senator Canavan, unsuccessfully attempted to take control of the party.
Tensions are high after rebel Nats yesterday combined with Labor to elect Joyce supporter Llew O'Brien as Deputy Speaker.
Senator Canavan, who resigned his ministry to back Mr Joyce, told The Daily Telegraph that while he was disappointed by the Liberals' leadership changes over recent years "I tried to always be respectful".
"It's their party and their decisions. I just hope for the same respect back. That's all I ask for," he said.
While Mr Frydenberg's frustrations were understandable, he said, "a guaranteed way of keeping these distractions in the media would be for the Liberal Party to start commenting on other party's matters".
He also took on inner Sydney Liberals Dave Sharma and Trent Zimmerman for suggesting the government should not put any money into a coal-fired power plant at Collinsville in Queensland. "The government policy we took to the last election was that we would fund the business case for Collinsville," he said. "Now Trent and David obviously seem to have a different view and don't agree with government policy."
Senator Canavan said Mr Albanese's claim that the private sector wouldn't touch new coal-fired plants with a "barge pole" was wrong.
"I know it's not true," the Senator said. "There are very prominent energy companies in the private space that are engaged (with the project)."
New coal-fired and renewable power generators weren't competing with each other, he said.
"Renewables are not a substitute. You can say 'I'm not going to eat steak tonight, I'm going to eat chicken instead'. They are pretty similar. They'll give you protein. They'll fill you up. But renewable energy is not red meat. If you switch from coal to renewables it's like switching from a piece of steak to a rocket and quinoa salad. It ain't going to fill you up."