ANGRY Coalition MPs have accused Malcolm Turnbull of threatening the partyroom after he staked his leadership today on climate change negotiations with Labor.
Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce told The Australian Online today the bottom line was that Mr Turnbull “is not the leader of my party”.
And rebel Liberal MP Mr Tuckey has fired back on calls he fall into line, warning Mr Turnbull that the last leader who staked his leadership on climate change, Brendan Nelson, ended up losing it.
Mr Turnbull warned rebel Liberal MPs, including Mr Tuckey and Cory Bernardi, today that those who continue to talk publicly were “undermining the electoral prospects of their colleagues, particularly in marginal seats”.
Suggesting he might quit if he cannot reach consensus in the partyroom, he warned he cannot lead a Liberal Party that is determined to “do nothing” about climate change.
“I understand the right of Malcolm as leader of the Liberal Party to guide it as he thinks is right but Malcolm is not leader of my party,” Senator Joyce said.
“The leader of my party is Warren Truss and the Nationals have been consistent and we do not believe an emissions trading scheme is a good idea. It's a massive tax that will have no effect.”
Mr Tuckey said the Coalition could not save Australian jobs by amending the Rudd Government's ETS as, at the best, such protection was on borrowed time.
“If the leader wants to threaten the party room with, “Follow me, `I'm standing on the edge of a cliff and we've all got to follow', that's a matter for him,” he told The Australian Online.
“Let the Australian people decide. We knock it back, we put up a credible alternative and it's a referendum on an emissions trading scheme.
“But if it goes to a double dissolution election, big business ought to get off its backside and tell people what it's all about and not lobby us to get a special deal for them.”
Mr Turnbull also warned the right of Liberals to exercise a conscience vote on such issues was a right that needed to be exercised with discretion.
“If a number of backbenchers choose to cross the floor, well that happens all the time,” he said. “But the fact is Australians want action on climate change and I am determined to ensure they get it.
His tough talk follows weeks of internal sniping over Coalition climate chance policy and claims by conservative MPs that they never agreed to an emissions trading scheme in the partyroom during the Howard years.
In his strongest comments to date, Mr Turnbull warned wavering MPs they must support negotiations with Labor on a carbon trading plan.
“If the partyroom were to reject my recommendation to them that would obviously be a leadership issue. That's perfectly plain, perfectly clear,” he told ABC Radio in Adelaide.
“And I am asserting my leadership and my authority as the leader of the party.
“But to do nothing, to literally be a party with nothing to say, which is what some people are suggesting we should be, a party with no ideas is not the party I am prepared to lead.”
Mr Turnbull said if his leadership prevails or not on this issue time will tell, but “we can't be a party with nothing to say”.
“You can't govern your house, how can you govern the nation, that's the criticism we've made of the Labor Party in the past.”