IT SEEMS incumbent and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce doesn’t want to walk too close to the sun, having burnt his connection with Solar Citizens director Claire O’Rourke.
Ms O’Rourke was not impressed with the Nationals MP after she confronted him in Tamworth about his party’s energy policies.
He walked away mid-conversation, which was very disappointing,” she said.
“We’re very concerned that the Coalition doesn’t have a plan for renewable energy past 2030.
“We’ve heard the policies by the other parties …we haven’t seen anything yet by the Coalition.”
But a spokesman for Mr Joyce said the Deputy Prime Minster didn’t brush Ms O’Rourke off, but had to dash off to another engagement.
“Ms O’Rourke approached him after he gave his announcement and answered questions from the press,” he said.
“He gave her several minutes of his time but he was running late for another appointment.
“He apologised to Ms O’Rourke and headed back to the campaign office for his next appointment.”
The spokesman said Mr Joyce had a vision for the region.
“NSW’s largest wind farm is being constructed at Glen Innes, powering more than 75,000 homes and worth $400 million,” he said. “Because there are less than 75,000 homes in the electorate, this project will be a nett exporter.
“Seventy towers are proposed in stage one of the project, with that total climbing to 119 when stage two is completed.
“Mr Joyce has a plan for the electorate with infrastructure, jobs and roads.
“When people go to the ballot box on July 2 they must think about who best can deliver for the electorate and who would just be a complaints desk.”
Solar Citizens is a group advocating for the country to increase its capacity to generate electricity from the sun.
The group’s mascot, a bright yellow sun called Sunny, has been at most major political events in the New England.
Sunny’s appearances have been well received generally, costume wearers say, with many people and candidates coming up for a cuddle.
But it seems Mr Joyce is too shy to go in for a hug, with Sunny’s minders saying the incumbent had avoided the mascot in the past.
Ms O’Rourke says Mr Joyce’s camp has snubbed the group’s Solar Scorecard, which pits the candidates’ views on solar energy against one another.
“We’ve got all of the major candidates we’re aware of,” she said.
“We had a strong response from Tony Windsor and from Rob Taber. We didn’t get a response from The Nationals.”
Ms O’Rourke said Mr Joyce’s score was derived from Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt’s response to the group.
He was given a blue cloud next to his name, whereas Independent candidates Mr Windsor and Mr Taber have three suns.
Greens candidate Mercurius Goldstein has two suns next to his name.
Ms O’Rourke said the close race for the New England seat meant Sunny was spending a bit of time in the electorate.
“We’re running the national campaign that really focuses on getting a commitment from politicians in transitioning our electricity sector to 100 per cent renewable power by 2030.
“We think there’s a strong contest, there’s a really good opportunity to raise those issues.
“We’ve done a series of poling that says people are broadly supportive of renewables and 64 per cent of people said they would.
“We shouldn’t have partisanship about this stuff.”
While a photo of Mr Joyce hugging Sunny has yet to surface, Mr O’Rourke hopes the Coalition announces strong policies about renewable energy before voting day.
“There’s still a few weeks left to go,” she said.
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