In what will be hard to top as the most wild political press conference of the year, federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg and South Australian premier Jay Weatherill threw the gloves on for a 12-round heavyweight fight about power supply on national TV.
Frydenberg was in SA to check out the new 'virtual power plant', with solar battery storage installations operating in a 'cloud-based system' by AGL. Weatherill was there too. There was a press conference held at the site, where the pair took turns making statements and taking some questions. That's when it got awkward, when Weatherill sidled up behind Frydenberg and started laying into him.
SA has been experiencing ongoing electricity supply issues for many months. The state depends on renewable energy more than any other in the country, and several widespread blackouts (including one affecting the entire state) have put the pressure on and given the federal government cannon fodder to talk up their plan which includes a lower reliance on renewable energy. The government has been taking potshots at SA for months over their energy issues, holding the state up as an example of what happens when there is too much reliance on renewables.
So after being ridiculed and criticised for ages, Weatherill saw his shot to fire back at the federal minister in charge, and took it.
"To be honest, I didn't even know Jay was going to be here," Frydenberg said.
It went downhill from there.
"It shows the Commonwealth government are in a white-knuckle panic about national energy policy. It's a $2 billion admission the national energy market is broken and there needs to be public investments to fix it up," Weatherill said, referencing the Snowy Hydro scheme announced earlier in the morning.
"It is a little galling to be standing here next to a man who has been standing up with his Prime Minister bagging South Australia at every step of the way over the last six months, to be standing here on this occasion. Suggesting that we want to work together is a disgrace.
"The way in which your government has treated this state is the most anti-South Australia government we've seen from a Commonwealth government in living memory."
Weatherill called Frydenberg a "disgrace" again. This was Frydenberg's face:
Twitter followed along, enthralled.
Adviser: So Josh Frydenberg is holding a press conference around the corner...— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) March 15, 2017
Jay Weatherill: pic.twitter.com/vDRYymC9rb
Half expect Weatherill to deck him. pic.twitter.com/V8Bf78RziS— Dan Smith (@0DanSmith) March 15, 2017
Josh Frydenberg and Jay Weatherill are slinging insults at each other from the same microphone - STANDING NEXT TO EACH OTHER— Charles Croucher (@ccroucher9) March 15, 2017
Well done Josh Frydenberg. Instead of everyone talking about visionary Snowy expansion and ACTU comments, now story is about a stupid brawl— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) March 15, 2017
This will be hard to top.
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