Nationals: ‘She’s coming back to a f***ing sh*tstorm’
John Barilaro has issued an extraordinary call to arms to his ministers to consider their future in the Coalition with the besieged Berejiklian-led Liberal party and for him to abandon his rank as deputy premier.
There is deep frustration with the Liberal party among senior ranks of the National party over expected cuts to 500 jobs in the bush by government-owned Essential Energy.
Mr Barilaro is understood to be "apoplectic" that after five weeks of negotiations with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet the government have not stopped Essential Energy's plans to scrap jobs in regional NSW.
Last night Mr Barilaro issued an extraordinary missive to his ministers asking them to consider their "relationship" with the Liberal party.
Ms Berejiklian - who will return to Sydney on Sunday after an international trade mission - is already facing white-hot anger within her ranks over disastrous abortion legislation that has fractured her party.
"She's coming back to a f***ing sh*tstorm, her party is split right down the middle and now the Coalition could be split," a senior Nationals source said last night.
In the note circulated to ministers last night Mr Barilaro called for feedback on "the future of the Nationals in government".
"And whether the time has come to revisit our relationship with the Liberal Party by relinquishing my title of Deputy Premier but remaining Leader of the Nationals in a Coalition Government," he wrote.
"I feel that it can no longer stand that we bear all the same risks of being in government without any of the benefits that determine our futures."
Mr Barilaro wrote that the Nationals have been "fighting with our Liberal colleagues" to keep the Essential Energy jobs "without result".
"This is not good enough."
Mr Barilaro also pointed to the Liberal party giving more support to Independent Alex Greenwich's contentious abortion legislation than to saving jobs in the bush.
"Over this same period we have had an independent member get more support for a bill that has wedged our supporters and split the Liberal Party than we have for a keeping our promise of no regional job losses," he wrote.
Mr Barilaro's frustration over the proposed job cuts has been spurred by Ms Berejiklian declaring after the March election win there would be no public service job losses in the bush - a pledge which is now being threatened by Essential Energy.
"The Premier made the decision to say no job losses and it's the Nationals that are getting blamed for a policy that they didn't introduce … they made the announcement, we cop it in the a***," a senior Nationals source said.
A senior Nationals MP told The Daily Telegraph the consideration to shake-up the Coalition was "absolutely serious".
"It is quite serious, there is talk about this because of Essential Energy and a number of other issues like the drought."
A spokesman for Mr Barilaro would not comment.
Essential Energy is poised to slash jobs as it cuts costs and said in a statement last month it needed to reduce "field and non-field roles".
The Electrical Trades Union said the company will sack 182 workers this year - saving $24 million per annum - and then an extra 500 employees by 2024.
ETU secretary Justin Page said the government needed to stand up to Essential Energy CEO John Cleland and prevent him from slashing his workforce.
"The Nationals need to toughen up. And the Liberals need to deliver. This is simply not acceptable, allowing the Essential Energy CEO to walk over them and defy their policy of protecting jobs," he said.
"We are talking about communities doing it tough in the drought and job losses in our regions are just devastating."
Ms Berejiklian and Essential Energy declined to comment.