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Mon, 11 Mar, 2019Joanita Wibowo

Nationals leader takes a swipe at Barnaby Joyce: "I understand what it takes to have a successful marriage"

Nationals leader takes a swipe at Barnaby Joyce: "I understand what it takes to have a successful marriage"

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Michael McCormack has taken a swipe at Barnaby Joyce amid growing speculation that Joyce will take his job.

On Monday, Joyce reiterated his calls for a new coal-fired power plant in Queensland in an interview with Radio National, despite the Liberal Party’s fears that it would threaten safe seats in the southern states.

"We are not married to the Liberal Party," said Joyce. "If we’re going to agree with everything they say, we should join the Liberal Party."

In response to the call, McCormack alluded to Joyce’s failed marriage. "I understand when you have a marriage it's a two-way relationship," McCormack said.

"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."

Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack

Joyce, former leader of the Nationals, stepped down from the party's top spot last year after the public learned of his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion. The relationship also ended Joyce's 24-year marriage with wife Natalie.

While Joyce said he had no intention to launch a leadership spill against McCormack, he suggested that he would be legitimate for the job.

"If there was a spill and the position's vacant, I am the elected deputy prime minister of Australia, so I’d have no, any guilt at all in standing but I don't see that happening," Joyce said.

"So people say, 'Oh, the leadership’s toppled' – no, it wouldn’t be, because I’m the elected leader at the last elected federal election."

Prime Minister and Liberals leader Scott Morrison denied that leadership change is abound for the Nationals. 

"We have a fantastic leader of the National Party and the Deputy Prime Minister in Michael McCormack and there'll be no change to that," said Morrison.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten indicated that the current Coalition government are too divided for Australians.

"The Liberals are divided. They can't agree on who the leader should have been. They can't agree on whether or not to give women a fair go. They can't agree on energy or climate policy.

"And then you turn to the National Party. They can’t agree whether their leader should be Barnaby Joyce or Michael McCormack. They can’t agree about whether it’s a good idea whether to privatise Queensland power. They can’t agree even on their coal line."

The Liberal-Nationals have suffered its 50th consecutive loss in the Newspoll as they continued to lag behind Labor by 46 per cent to 54 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. However, Morrison still emerged as the preferred prime minister over Shorten by 43 per cent to 36 per cent.