Mid West and Agricultural Region National Party politicians hardly rejoicing at new deputy PM

Elise Van Aken & Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Barnaby Joyce and Mia Davies
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce and Mia Davies

Local Nationals MPs appear in no rush to put out the welcome mat for resurrected Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, sharing WA leader Mia Davies’ condemnation of last week’s Federal leadership spill.

Ms Davies, WA’s Opposition Leader, said she was “disappointed” that her National Party colleagues in Canberra had again switched leaders, and decided to oust Michael McCormack. She added Mr Joyce, returning after sex scandals saw him demoted, faced a “significant task to rebuild trust” with voters.

Three years ago, Ms Davies led calls for Mr Joyce to resign from the leadership because of the “damage” he was causing the party, amid revelations of an affair with a staffer and sexual harassment allegations, which he denied.

Nationals WA Member for the Agricultural Region Martin Aldridge at the Gingin CRC.
Camera IconNationals WA Member for the Agricultural Region Martin Aldridge at the Gingin CRC. Credit: Supplied

Nationals MP for the Agricultural Region Martin Aldridge and Moore MP Shane Love both said they shared Ms Davies concerns.

During a late-night sitting of Parliament last week, Mr Aldridge crossed the floor to hug Labor MP Jackie Jarvis, whispering “good job”, after she slammed the Federal Nationals for again making Mr Joyce their leader after allegations of sexual harassment from her friend and fellow Rural Woman of the Year recipient Catherine Marriott emerged.

“It happened at 2am and I was the only National Party member in the chamber. It was a very emotional speech and I thought it was the right thing to do to go and comfort her,” Mr Aldridge said.

“I told her I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to do, I felt an obligation to her regardless of our politics. I think it’s unfortunate the matters relating to the allegations remain unresolved between both parties.

“We all need to have confidence in political leaders at this time of national emergency, regardless of the people who hold those offices we need to have confidence they will discharge their duties to the highest standard.”

I think it’s unfortunate the matters relating to the allegations remain unresolved between both parties. We all need to have confidence in political leaders...we need to have confidence they will discharge their duties to the highest standard.

- Nationals MP for the Agricultural Region Martin Aldridge.

“Michael McCormack (as the Federal Nationals leader) would be a personal preference, I think he was doing a good job and I don’t think it has been articulated what the problem was by those who were involved in the spill,” he said.

“Barnaby is a polarising figure ... but I think what ultimately will be important is his ability to bring that Federal team back together in the current environment and provide the best outcome for regional Australia.”

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies, former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, former Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney and Nationals deputy leader and member for Moore Shane Love outside the Geraldton Yacht Club on February 19, 2021.
Camera IconWA Nationals leader Mia Davies, former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, former Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney and Nationals deputy leader and member for Moore Shane Love outside the Geraldton Yacht Club on February 19, 2021. Credit: Elise Van Aken/The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Love said he would prefer the Federal Government put internal politics aside to concentrate on “delivering for the nation”.

“Michael McCormack was a good minister for WA, he did a lot for the region and it will be interesting to see if the same emphasis will be put on WA under the new leadership,” he said.

“There’s a lot more happening than just Barnaby coming to the fore, there are a lot of changes in Cabinet. It’s good to see Bridget McKenzie returning, she was well engaged with WA when she was the agriculture minister.

“But it is disappointing that the resources minister is no longer in the Cabinet, given (the) importance of the industry for WA.”

Nationals MP for North West Central Vince Catania said he hoped Mr Joyce would “come up with” the $9 million to rebuild Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty.

Colin de Grussa was contacted for comment

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