Photo: Mr Abbott and Mr Laundy reportedly clashed as MPs and Senators filed out of the meeting. (ABC News)
Tensions between Liberal factional rivals Tony Abbott and Craig Laundy boiled over at the conclusion of Tuesday's party room meeting, in which dozens of Coalition backbenchers raised concerns about Alan Finkel's energy report.
- A special party room meeting was called to give Coalition MPs and Senators the chance to debate Mr Finkel's energy plan
- Mr Abbott was one of about 10 in attendance who expressed "serious misgivings" about the introduction of a CET
- Mr Abbott and Mr Laundy reportedly had a 15-minute "heated exchange" at the conclusion of the meeting
The special meeting was called to give Liberal and National MPs more time to debate the chief scientist's recommendations, including the introduction of a Clean Energy Target [CET] to encourage the development of low emission generators.
While the three-hour meeting was described as "positive" and "constructive", the ABC has been told Mr Abbott and Mr Laundy had a "very heated exchange" that lasted around 15 minutes after MPs and Senators filed out of the meeting.
It is understood it followed a minor altercation during the meeting when Mr Laundy took issue with Mr Abbott for interjecting while he was on his feet.
The former prime minister was one of about 10 MPs who expressed "serious misgivings" about the introduction of a CET, while a handful spoke in favour of the policy.
Rejecting suggestions of a "backbench revolt", Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the overwhelming feeling among his colleagues was that "business-as-usual is not an option".
However, he suggested it would still be some time before the Coalition settled its position on a CET, noting MPs' concerns about the impact it would have on power prices.
"Many colleagues want to understand what is the true impact on price of the Clean Energy Target," he said.
"And the Cabinet itself hasn't made any decisions.
"It was only right that we went to the party room today and had a full and frank discussion about what is happening in our electricity market."
Liberal MP Craig Kelly said while he was opposed to the idea of a CET, he believed the Finkel report was a good starting point for the Coalition as it develops a long-term energy policy.
"There are rightly concerns about what a [CET] will do to the price of electricity," he said.
"It's so important that we get this policy right, that we can go forward and take the pressure off electricity prices because the damage that it'll do to the economy is too great to fathom."
Some MPs are also concerned that a CET would be too similar to Labor's climate policy and would see the Government lose its edge over the Opposition.
Christensen proposes alternative solutionCoalition MP George Christensen said the Government should build its own coal-fired power stations, saying it was unlikely Canberra could provide enough certainty for investors to fund new plants.
"I don't know why there would be an argument about doing that," he told AM this morning.
"We've certainly funded to a large degree a lot of green energy.
"It's about doing stuff outside the box."
Labor has already indicated it would consider changing the parameters of a CET if in government.
Mr Christensen said that would discourage investors looking to fund so-called clean-coal technologies that could be viable under a Coalition Government CET.
"Perhaps there is an argument to be made for the onus being on Government to actually deliver certainty by going in and investing themselves in coal-fired power so that we have decent baseload, reliable and affordable electricity generation," he said.