(Reminder: Joyce stepped down as leader after facing sustained pressure on two issues: his relationship with a former staffer, and an allegation of sexual harassment. He denied the latter, and a party investigation was unable to make a finding.)
But WAIT, I hear you cry, why on earth are we talking about a new leader of the Nationals only a couple of months out from a federal election? Hasn’t the Coalition caused enough damage to itself?
It would appear not. After weeks of chaos surrounding the Liberal party, it seemed like the Nats thought they’d have a go.
You see, there is a group of Queensland Nationals MPs who want McCormack to pressure the government into subsidising coal-fired power in the state ahead of the federal election.
And then it got REAL interesting.
Joyce said the Nationals should “pursue policies in our own right” and that the party was not married to its Coalition partners, the Liberals.
Which led to this response from Whatsisname:
“Well, when you have a marriage, I understand when you have a marriage that it’s a two-way relationship, you don’t always get what you want, but you have to work together to build better outcomes for your family. I understand that, I understand what it takes to have a successful marriage and to make sure that we work together to build a better Australia.”
I know right! Unsurprisingly it led to quite a few headlines.
Joyce said he hoped people in politics would not revel in the personal issues of others and said he would take the remark as a “faux pas”…
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, who is fighting to hold on to key seats in the state election, had a very stark message.
“My message to my federal colleagues is, you know, shut up. Simple. Stop navel-gazing. Stop talking about yourselves,” he said.
“We’ve been through this journey for a long time. People are sick to death of governments that are only focussed on their internal ambitions and their internal issues.”
Elsewhere, Nationals in WA were also fed up.
The state leader of the party, Mia Davies — who was one of the first to call for Barnaby Joyce to stand down last year — told the West Australian: “The Nationals WA made their views clear on Mr Joyce’s leadership in March 2018.”
Speaking to Nine’s Today on Wednesday, he said: “I have no intentions whatsoever, I don’t know how many times I have to say this, to do anything but make sure Michael McCormack is the deputy prime minister.
“We are going to go to this election with Michael McCormack and Scott Morrison, and I hope that we do everything that we can to get them federally elected.”
On his recent comments about being the “elected deputy prime minister of Australia”, he admitted: “Maybe it was misstep by my behalf.”
And on those leadership ambitions: “If any party has nobody in the leadership position by reason of a spill, lots of people will throw their hats in. It’s a statement of the bleeding obvious.”