Nick Xenophon has vowed to "keep the bastards accountable" on energy costs and will pull the plug on any South Australian minority government if it can't cut power prices by 20 per cent within two years.
The benchmark is included in SA-BEST’s energy policy, released on Thursday, as debate over electricity supplies and costs continued to dominate the campaign for the March 17 election.
Mr Xenophon’s blunt warning to the Labor government and the Liberal opposition hinges on his party securing the balance of power in the next parliament.
“We just want to keep the bastards accountable on energy prices, whoever those bastards may be,” he told reporters.
“I think there is nothing like the prospect of a government losing its position to focus their minds on the issue of energy.”
His comments also came as Business SA weighed heavily into the election debate, describing the public service as “morbidly obese”.
It called on the next government to review the scope of services it provides and for cuts to the number MPs and government ministers.
The organisation also called for business tax cuts, the establishment of an independent infrastructure authority and for higher population growth.
“We need to grow our economy and ensure there are jobs for our children, in what should be a thriving state with a bright future,” Business SA chief executive Nigel McBride said.
“Instead, we have a morbidly obese public sector, payroll tax rates which penalise our successful small and medium-sized businesses, the most expensive power in our nation and an ageing population and slow growth.”
Premier Jay Weatherill said the Business SA plan posed a massive risk to government services including schools and hospitals and was in line with plans for “very large tax giveaways” from the Liberal opposition and SA-BEST.
“What does that mean? Deep cuts to health and education,” he said.
“They’re all on the same page.”
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall did not comment directly on Business SA’s assessment of the public service but said it was in need of better leadership.
“What the public service needs in SA is leadership and new direction and only the Liberal party will provide that,” Mr Marshall said.
In other details of its energy policy, SA-BEST will also push for a non-profit energy retailer to be established to provide cheaper power to households with an income up to $75,000 and to businesses with power bills under $20,000.
It believes 50,000 households and 5000 businesses would be eligible.
Also on energy, Labor pledged $100 million for interest-free loans up to $10,000 to allow households to buy solar panels or home batteries.