Hinkler MP Keith Pitt.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt.

MP pushes for re-think on 'big stick' energy plan shelving

HINKLER MP Keith Pitt is leading a push within the Nationals to force a rethink of the government's decision to shelve its "big stick” plan to break up energy compannies that price gouge.

Mr Pitt reportedly called for a partyroom meeting and has the support of a number of MPs including Barnaby Joyce.

The issue will be debated on Monday.

The issue could become a flashpoint for tensions within the Nationals, and between the Coalition partners.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday shelved the legislation - aimed at forcibly divesting energy companies - after the Greens secured support from Labor and the crossbench to amend the bill and effectively ban the government from underwriting new coal-fired power. Mr Pitt told The Australian he wanted the Nationals to force the Liberal Party to prioritise the bill.

He said the proposed divestment powers were urgently needed to deal with the state power monopoly in Queensland, which was crippling energy users. "We have been trying to get action on this now for years,” he said. "Cost of living is a massive issue right across the country and for businesses everywhere, but particularly in regional Australia.”

He told the NewsMail the Premier could reduce power prices right now.

"She should start thinking about people that live outside of the South East corner and the effects high power prices are having.” Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen attacked the government for not putting up the big stick legislation in parliament.