Barnaby Joyce’s colleagues want clarity over his future in the Federal Parliament, with one of them declaring he needs to make a call on it, and soon.
- Ken O’Dowd says Barnaby Joyce needs to make a “crucial decision”
- A Nationals MP says Mr Joyce should “let someone else have a go”
- George Christensen declares his ongoing support for Mr Joyce
The former deputy prime minister’s “tell-all” television interview about his affair with Vikki Campion has Nationals MPs questioning whether Mr Joyce should even run at the next election.
His Queensland colleague Ken O’Dowd said the party wanted to stop discussing the issue.
“It’s time to put it all behind us because it has been distracting and we’re not elected to think about people’s personal lives. We want to start afresh as of today,” Mr O’Dowd said.
He said Mr Joyce needed to make a “crucial decision” and consider his political future, especially ahead of a federal election due next year.
“I think it’s very important for the people of Tamworth and New England that they know they’ve got someone there who is going to be in there fighting for them, and I think Barnaby would understand that and he’d make that call.
“Over to you, Barnaby, and best of luck with whatever you decide.”
Some in the Government want a fresh start to be without the former Nationals leader.
He has been endorsed by Tony Abbott, but many in the Coalition believe Mr Joyce has lost his political appeal.
Party stalwart Tim Fischer said there was no guarantee Mr Joyce would be chosen again to run in New England, or that he would win his seat at the next election.
Another Nationals MP has told the ABC Mr Joyce should work with a good “up and coming” National, bow out at the next election and “let someone else have a go”.
The MP said “politics is about the people of Australia — when it becomes about the politician it’s time to leave”.
But others are more optimistic and still regard Mr Joyce as an effective and loyal advocate for rural Australia.
Fellow Nationals backbencher George Christensen declared his ongoing support for Mr Joyce.
“It’s up to the rank and file members of the National Party in New England as to who will be their candidate at the next election,” Mr Christensen told the ABC.
“But I think if Barnaby wants to run again then he should as he still has a great deal to contribute to the nation.”
If Mr Joyce does want to run at the next election, his fate is in the hands of pre-selectors in New England.
The ABC understands there was strong support for him at the last branch meeting.