Barnaby Joyce has been urged to “just shut up” by fellow NSW Nationals after he stoked divisions over coal and leadership tensions on the eve of the state election.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro issued the blunt warning on Tuesday to the former deputy prime minister after days of divisions on energy policy.
“My message to my federal colleagues is simple: Just shut up. It’s simple: Stop navel-gazing,” he said.
“Stop talking about yourselves.”
Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie also slapped down Mr Joyce’s latest policy frolic amid division about building a taxpayer-funded coal-fired power station.
Warning that Mr Joyce is out of step with the Nationals’ agreed party room position, Senator McKenzie said voters were sick and tired of politicians squabbling over energy rather than bringing down prices.
“I think Australia is frustrated that there is a politician out there who is not focused on their needs and issues,” she said.
“Power prices is one of the No.1 issues. Cost of living is really biting out there. So we need to make sure our policies address that and not talking about ourselves.
“What Barnaby Joyce is saying publicly is very different to what the party room is saying.”
The blow-up follows Mr Joyce’s declaration at the weekend that he was Australia’s “elected deputy prime minister”.
Mr Joyce was forced to stand down as Nationals leader – and deputy PM – just over a year ago, in the face of revelations of an extramarital affair and claims of sexual harassment.
He has ruled out a tilt at returning to the party leadership before the election, but won’t rule out putting his hand up after that.
“Michael McCormack is our leader. We all back him to the hilt. He will be leading us to the federal election. He has delivered in spades as leader of the National Party,” Senator McKenzie said.
Liberal MP Tim Wilson said his colleagues were not about to bankroll a coal-fired power station if the business case didn’t stack up.
“If the market believes there’s a case for doing it, then it will finance it and fund it,” he said.
“The government’s job isn’t to just come along and build things because we like them. Particularly if there isn’t even a business case.
that stacks it up.
“We are not supporters of just using taxpayers’ money to underwrite new investments because it’s convenient.”