Tony Abbott says he is focused on getting a “100 per cent reliable energy target”. (ABC: Nick Haggarty)
Two years after he lost the prime ministership, Tony Abbott is again campaigning on energy costs, denouncing renewables and arguing for coal.
Mr Abbott won the 2013 election after promising to scrap a carbon price, but he lost the leadership to Malcolm Turnbull two years later on September 14.
He has reflected on the anniversary of losing the prime ministership in an interview on Sydney radio 2GB.
“I am incredibly proud of the six years I had leading the party and of the two years I had leading the country,” he said.
Mr Abbott spent yesterday as a volunteer bushfire officer fighting blazes around Sydney including driving one of the firetrucks.
“Someone said to me yesterday, ‘when are you going to be back in charge?’ and I said ‘at the moment all I am in charge of is this truck’,” he laughed.
“Obviously September 14, 2015 wasn’t a great day in my life, but the last thing I am going to do is let one bad day ruin six good years — they were good years.”
Abbott won’t agree to Turnbull’s clean energy target
He resisted being drawn further on his feelings about being dumped as leader.
“I know it is RUOK day and thank you for being concerned about my emotional welfare … but I am pretty resilient,” he said.
“As I said it wasn’t a great day, but at the moment I am determined to look forward, not back.”
Mr Abbott declared he is more focused on getting what he called a “100 per cent reliable energy target”.
Mr Turnbull is considering implementing a clean energy target which provides incentives for low emissions technology.
Tony Abbott says the Paris Climate agreement was only ever aspirational. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
But Mr Abbott indicated he will not agree to the plan when it is discussed in the Coalition party room.
“I welcome these signs that we are moving away from a clean energy target,” he said.
Mr Abbott criticised renewable energy sources.
“The trouble with renewables is that the sun does not always shine, the wind does not always blow. There has got to always be back up and if there has got to be back up, you have got to ask the question what useful purpose do they serve?” he said.
“If they are economic and dependable, fair enough. But at the moment they are neither.”
Paris agreement was only ‘aspirational’
Less than a month before he was replaced as prime minister, Mr Abbott announced Australia would aim for emissions reductions of up to 28 per cent in the Paris climate agreement — he said there was a “definite commitment to 26 per cent” reduction.
Today he said that was only ever “aspirational”.
“It was what we would do if we could,” Mr Abbott said.
When pressed in the interview on whether he thinks Australia should abandon the Paris agreement, Mr Abbott said “because it is not binding, there is no need at this point in time to walk away from it”.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has claimed Tony Abbott has been calling the Coalition’s shots on renewable energy policy. (AAP: Daniel Munoz)
In June, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia remains committed to the Paris agreement and said the target of cutting emissions by up to 28 per cent by 2030 are reasonable.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten taunted Mr Turnbull in Question Time today, saying that Mr Abbott was calling the shots on renewable energy policy, two years on from Mr Turnbull becoming leader.
The Speaker ruled it out of order for Mr Shorten to ask Mr Turnbull what the point of replacing Mr Abbott had been.