National

Abbott turns on energy plan as ‘idiocy’

By AAP Newswire

Idiocy is doing more of the same and expecting a different result and that's what the Turnbull government's nation energy plan is, former prime minister Tony Abbott argues.

He also believes blackouts and electricity rationing are "routine" and the National Energy Guarantee which is anticipated to double renewables will result in that happening more often.

Mr Abbott is one of a core group of pro-coal coalition members who aren't wavering in their support of the fossil fuel, a continued position that could bring down the entire policy.

He and other high profile backbenchers, including former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, have signalled a willingness to cross the floor and vote against the policy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is aiming to win support at a coalition party room meeting on Tuesday by promising to underwrite new coal generation, potentially including coal.

But Mr Abbott, who denies he's gone back on his promise not to become a "wrecker" on the backbench, believes this is a watershed moment for Australia in terms of future economic prosperity.

He's previously claimed "pigs might fly" if policy brings down power prices, a comment that prompted a veiled criticism from Mr Turnbull when it was quoted by Labor's Mark Butler in question time on Monday.

"(Mr Butler) knows very well what happens when you allow ideology and idiocy to take charge of energy policy," Mr Turnbull said, prompting Mr Abbott to throw up his hands with a smirk.

Mr Abbott turned the insult back on Mr Turnbull, telling ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night that "idiocy is doing more of the same and expecting a different result".

"We have massively increased renewables and what have we got - we have doubling of price, we've got blackouts and rationing now routine," he said.

"If you want to increase renewables even more, that is to say unreliable power, from the current 17 per cent to 36 per cent we are going to get more of the same."

Mr Joyce also wants the guarantee to include promises to act against power companies who lift energy prices for households.

"What do we say to them if the power prices don't go down?" he asked reporters in Canberra.

The opposition and minor parties will get their first look at modelling around the policy on Tuesday after the Greens passed a motion in the Senate setting a 9am deadline for its publication.

They're hoping politicians of all stripes will get a chance to look at the final proposal before caucus and party room meetings.

State and territory energy ministers will hold a phone hook-up later on Tuesday if the policy passes the coalition party room to decide whether to release the legislation for public consultation.

South Australia and the commonwealth must both put draft legislation out to consultation for four weeks before it can be introduced to parliament.