Israel Folau
Israel Folau leaves a conciliation hearing at the Fair Work Commission in Sydney. (Image: AAP/Peter Rae)

The conflicts within conservative ranks over religious freedom may not ostensibly relate to divisions within the Coalition over energy policy, but there's a connection, and one that points to the underlying force driving the eruption of demands for some kind of legislated recognition of religious identity.

The key policy challenge of the previous parliament for the government was energy policy, and not just because it pitted moderates against a rump of climate denialists. It also required the Liberals to abandon core doctrines around free markets in favour of dramatic government intervention.