Joyce hits back at leadership speculation
BARNABY Joyce has attempted to hose down leadership spill speculation following a chaotic day for the National Party.
Colleagues ripped in to Mr Joyce yesterday over his calls for a coal-fired power station and rumours he would have a tilt at regaining the party's top spot.
It's thought the Nationals could have a leadership spill to roll leader Michael McCormack following the federal election.
In an interview with the Today Show, Mr Joyce insisted Mr McCormack had his support but admitted he would run if the leadership position was declared vacant.
"I have no intentions whatsoever to do anything but make sure Michael McCormack is the deputy prime minister," Mr Joyce said.
When asked if "hand on heart" he wanted the job as National Party leader, Mr Joyce responded: "I do not," before abruptly stopping and explaining, "We are going to go to this election with Michael McCormack and Scott Morrison, and I hope we do everything we can to get them elected."
Mr Joyce said he hoped both leaders were federally elected, but said he'd put his hand up if a spill was called.
"If any party has nobody in the leadership position by reason of a spill, lots of people will throw their hats in."
His comments follow yesterday's drama, where Victorian National leader Peter Walsh said people were "shaking their heads" and Mr Joyce's behaviour.
Mr Walsh's comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison slapped down Mr Joyce's call for the coal-fired power station.
"Barnaby Joyce had the support and respect of his colleagues and the party when he was deputy prime minister, and he owes that to the current deputy prime minister," Mr Walsh told ABC radio.
He said the fact the ex-leader was not doing so "says more about Barnaby than it does about the Nationals", as fears grow that disunity at a federal level could hurt the NSW's Nationals chances at the looming state election.
A team is always greater than any individual, Mr Walsh said.
"Someone should take Barnaby aside and explain that to him."
The West Australian branch of the National Party cautioned against reinstalling Mr Joyce as leader, while deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie said Australians were frustrated with his behaviour.
"What Barnaby Joyce is saying publicly is very different from what the party room is saying," Ms McKenzie said.
"I think Australia is frustrated that there's a politician out there who's not focused on their needs and issues," she said.
"It's really clear that when you're out on the ground talking to communities … that power prices is one of the number one issues. Cost of living is really, really biting out there and so we need to make sure our policies address that."