Coalition MPs divided over energy plan

Former prime minister Tony Abbott says he may still vote against the national energy guarantee

Federal coalition MPs are still divided over whether to support the national energy guarantee despite big manufacturers asking them to fall into line and back it.

Steelmaker BlueScope, resources giant BHP and the minerals, farming and business lobbies met with more than 30 coalition MPs on Tuesday asking them to support the plan.

But former prime minister Tony Abbott, who had already threatened to vote against his own party, said the meeting hadn't softened his stance.

"The short answer is yes," Mr Abbott said, when asked if he could still cross the floor to vote against the national energy guarantee.

"I think that I have an obligation to keep faith with the position that the government took to the people in 2013."

He was one of four coalition MPs who spoke against the guarantee in the coalition party room on Tuesday, after hearing from manufacturing executives.

But at least 12 other MPs supported the government's plan, including NSW marginal seat MP Ann Sudmalis.

"The more people stuff around with this issue, the greater the risk that I won't be here," she told the party room.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said businesses were demanding the national energy guarantee.

"They came to parliament with a very clear and unequivocal message," he told parliament.

"The national energy guarantee is in the national interest."

Backbench energy committee members and other dubious government MPs want assurances about supply reliability under the national energy guarantee, and whether it will drive down power prices.

Liberal MP Tony Pasin said he wants a price guarantee of $60 a megawatt hour, to go along with reliability and emissions targets.

Mr Abbott also wants any legislation to come back to the party room before it is put to parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it will be dealt with in the usual way.

But Labor has warned any concessions for coal to appease coalition dissenters will result in a failure to reach bipartisan consensus on energy.

"Any subsidy for new coal in the NEG will destroy any chance of the government attracting broad support for its policy," Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler told The Guardian.