Barnaby Joyce has refused to make public the coalition deal between the Nationals and the Liberal Party while labelling independent candidates selfish and “fundamentally dishonest” for not naming who they would back to form government.
The Deputy Prime Minister used an address to the National Press Club to warn a government that relied on independent candidates to hold power would not be “a tenable form of government”.
A clutch of high-profile independent candidates are challenging moderate Liberals in inner-city seats, campaigning in part on the need for greater climate action and linking the Nationals to the government’s lagging record. The Nationals-held seat of Nicholls also has a strong independent candidate, Rob Priestly, while regional seats Kennedy and Indi have been in crossbench hands for several terms.
Joyce said these independents were “selfish” because they relied on voters in most seats sticking with political parties who could form government and get on with day-to-day political process.
“It’s also fundamentally dishonest. Because they never disclose which side they would support if a vote came down to them,” Joyce said.
“The thought that they don’t actually know at this stage of a campaign, which political side would get their casting vote in a hung parliament, is totally implausible.”
But when asked whether he show the same transparency he’s demanding of independent candidates and would allow the coalition agreement between the Liberals and Nationals to be made public, Joyce said point blank: No.
“In my discussions to get the best deal for regional Australia, I don’t want to have to ventilate every iteration, every nuance day by day in the media,” he said, before going on to describe the agreement document as “rather unremarkable”.
And when pushed on whether he would seek a veto right over any negotiations between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and crossbenchers in the event of a hung parliament, Joyce said that was only hypothetical – although he didn’t expect to be party to any such negotiations.
“I think you open a can of worms when you go down that process,” he said.
Joyce described his partnership with Scott Morrison as a “business relationship” and said the prime minister had honoured every deal they had made.
One of the other issues many of the inner-city independents are campaigning on is the treatment of women in politics and society more broadly.
Asked why women should vote for the Coalition given its lack of female representation and a well-publicised slew of allegations against male MPs, Joyce agreed there was always more work to do but touted the Nationals’ record.
“If we had a quota system in the Senate we would need more blokes because it’s 80 per cent women.”
In the lower house in the last parliament, the Nationals had two women and 14 men.
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( Information from smh.com.au was used in this report. To Read More, click here )