Turnbull fires up over government ‘idiocy’
MALCOLM Turnbull has warned against the "idiocy" of a fresh internal brawl in the federal coalition over coal-fired power, saying it's damaging the NSW conservative government's chances of re-election.
The former Liberal prime minister said infighting over energy as well as leadership tensions in the Nationals were hurting NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's hopes of winning next week's vote.
"You haven't worked out how damaging it is? Clearly, all of the distraction from the feds is unhelpful. That's obvious," he toldThe Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.
Divisions in the Morrison government have re-emerged in the past week, with pro-coal MPs pushing for the federal government to fund a new power station in Queensland.
The issue has also fuelled doubts over Nationals leader Michael McCormack's leadership after Barnaby Joyce threatened his tenure before retreating. Mr Turnbull said new coal-fired power generation would not come cheap.
"The cheapest form of new energy in Australia, if you're talking about dispatchable power, is a combination of renewable power, wind and solar, with zero marginal cost generation, plus storage," he said.
"We have the means to get to zero emission or near zero emission in Australia but you need to plan it.
"You've got to have engineering and economics rather than ideology and idiocy and, regrettably, there's quite a lot of that around."
Voter polls indicate the NSW coalition and Labor are running neck and neck out from the March 23 poll state election.
Meanwhile, Mr Turnbull's staunch ally and federal Liberal MP Craig Laundy is expected to imminently announce his retirement from politics.
"Craig is a good friend of mine and I talk to him regularly. But in terms of those sort of decisions, he'll make them himself," Mr Turnbull said.