'Numbers were close': Barnaby Joyce speaks after spill
In an exclusive interview, Barnaby Joyce revealed to 2TM while the votes were close in the leadership spill, he would strongly advise his constituents against pushing for another tilt in the next two years.
Mr Joyce announced his intention to vie for the top spot on Monday after two years in the political wilderness.
But, Michael McCormack retained the top position, while David Littleproud stepped up into the position of deputy leader of the Nationals.
Mr Joyce denied that voters would feel frustrated by Tuesday’s events, considering the larger issues such as the drought and bushfire crisis.
“I think it is part of the Westminister system, it’s what happens,” he said.
“Everyone in any place knows your job is something you respect and you have to fight for it and show you are up to it and don’t think you can live without a challenge to it - that’s why we have elections.”
Mr Joyce said without leadership spills “you would have a lazy government”.
He added that he wants the National Party to be strong when questioned on how he would work to show party unity.
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“Immediately I congratulated Michael and said ‘we will work together’, and put out a statement,” Mr Joyce said.
“You have to remember that I never called for the spill.”
When asked why did he think a spill was called, Mr Joyce said the main issue was concern that there was no voice driving the agenda for regional Australians.
“We have a lot of issues before us, whether it is the bushfires, coming out of the drought, dealing with issues such as the Murray Daling Basin and people’s access to water, making sure that we look after people on the periphery … especially in the New England,” he said.
Mr Joyce said he was confident in Mr McCormack and the National Party to drive those agendas.
While he would not confirm whether or not he intended to vie for the top spot in the future, Mr Joyce said he was “not planning” on calling a spill and would “strongly advise” his constituents against pushing for one.
“I lost, we only just lost … they [the numbers] were close,” he said.
“I would say we should try to keep the show as stable as possible.”
Mr McCormack spoke after the partytoom meeting and said regional Australians will be the focus from now on.
"I shook hands with Barnaby, and we are going to move on," he said.
"National Party votes are never revealed ... that has always been the convention of the party."