BARNABY Joyce is prepared to cross the floor if changes aren’t made to the government’s energy policy.
The New England MP believes the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) focuses too much on reducing emissions, rather than creating downward pressure on power prices.
“People have got to the point where they don’t care what the modelling says, and they don’t understand or don’t care about the Paris Agreement,” Mr Joyce said.
“The issue at the forefront of their mind is that their power bills keep going up.”
Mr Joyce wants a guarantee that the policy will make power prices go down, and proposed the government create a divestment power option as a threat to break up the energy firms in the event that they fail to cut power prices.
“We’ve got to come up with something that forces power prices down, and if it doesn’t, we need to have a plan B – and a brutal one if necessary,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce wouldn’t put a figure on what guaranteed price fall he would be satisfied with, but said it would have to “come down and come down a fair swoop”.
“The Salvation Army in Tamworth has told me that people are going to bed at 5.30pm to stay warm, because they can't afford to keep the heating on,” he said.
“Ultimately if we don’t force down power prices, we are forcing people in Armidale to be cold in winter and the people in Tamworth to be hot in summer, because they can’t afford their power bills.”
Mr Joyce’s history shows his threat to cross the floor is not an empty one – he crossed 28 times during his time as a Queensland senator.
However, it’s been close to a decade since the former deputy prime minister has voted against his party.
“You always keep that option up your sleeve,” he said.
“It’s not a statement of crossing the floor, it’s about getting better power prices for New England.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.