Not to be outdone by the leadership spills in the Labor and Liberal parties, a fresh rift over the direction of the Nationals could see Barnaby Joyce try to reclaim the role of Deputy Prime Minister from Michael McCormack.
McCormack took a surprising swing at Barnaby Joyce, after he argued that the Nationals weren’t ‘married’ to the Liberal Party.
‘I understand when you have a marriage that it’s a two-way relationship,’ he told reporters in Queensland on Monday.
‘You don’t always get what you want but you have to work together to build better outcomes for your family.’
Energy policy feeds tension
His comments seemingly point towards tensions between Coalition partners over energy policy issues.
But McCormack’s statement packs more weight behind it for Mr. Joyce, who lost the Nationals leadership, and whose own marriage collapsed very publicly after news broke of his affair with staff member Vikki Campion.
Joyce rejected McCormacks Liberal–National marriage likeness, instead describing it more of a ‘business relationship’ where both parties put forward deals for their counterparts.
In a statement to AAP, commenting McCormack’s swipe, Joyce said, ‘I would hope nobody in politics revels in the personal issues of others and I hope that this is not the case this time.’
Later on, Joyce told Sky News he took McCormack’s remarks as a ‘faux pas’, but has still been ‘a bit’ hurt by them.
Another leadership spill in sight?
Yesterday, Mr Joyce took it upon himself to remind the public he remained ‘the elected deputy prime minister of Australia’.
He added he would have no guilt whatsoever in leading the National Party again, if Mr McCormack was ousted.
Mr Joyce told ABC Radio National:
‘I am not going to call a spill, I am not looking for numbers…
‘If there was a spill, the position is vacant, I am the elected deputy prime minister of Australia, so I’d have no guilt at all standing — but I don’t see that happening.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there will be ‘no change’ to his leadership team. As Joyce hastily rejected accusations he is hurting the government’s chances of being re-elected.
But whatever the outcome, there’s no doubt that the Australian public is fed up with watching political shenanigans unfold while greater issues press.
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