Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

That's not my job: Barnaby refuses to share blame for Liberal collapse


Leader Barnaby Joyce has suggested the Nationals did not suffer the same election swings against them as their Liberal colleagues due to voters knowing what the party stood for.

Print article

Joyce’s comments came as Liberal Party members began the search for a new leader, with Queenslander Peter Dutton an early favourite.

The Nationals retained every incumbent seat they contested on Saturday, as well as gaining a new senator in NSW.

The party also remains confident it will pick up the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari and the NSW electorate of Hunter.

Joyce said the Nationals were not to blame for the election loss.

“We reflect on the fact that we won every seat that we held. Three of those were seats that had had retiring members. We picked up another Senate colleague, and in many of our seats we had swings to us,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“I’ll let the Liberals have a discussion about Liberal Party issues. The Nationals have done an incredibly good job when the tide was running strong against us.”

The Nationals leader said he would serve out the full term in parliament, regardless of the fortunes of the coalition.

While he congratulated Anthony Albanese on his election win, he promised to properly scrutinise the government.

“We are now an opposition and the first day of opposition we will hold the government to account,” he said.

“We also note that the Labor Party has the lowest vote than they’ve ever had since about 1910. Their primary vote (32 per cent) was lower than what Mr Shorten received at the previous election.”

Joyce says the Nationals success at the election was due to voters knowing what the party stood for.

“The culture of the Nationals is one that when we are in our seats, we believe that we are overwhelmingly the ‘last hope’, Obi-Wan Kenobi, when they’re doing it tough,” he said.

“When people ask for help, we put aside the politics and help them.”

Despite the swings towards candidates and independents pledging more action on climate change, Joyce said the Nationals were not responsible for the loss.

“People in urban areas are not that stupid that they wouldn’t realise that the Nationals are not actually standing in their seats,” he said.

Queensland MP Stuart Robert rejected suggestions Dutton, the former defence minister, could take the Liberal party further to the right.

“The key thing for the Liberal-Nationals parties is to represent aspiration,” he told Nine Network on Monday.

“We have always been a sensible centre-right party and that is where which we should stay.

“Peter Dutton would make an excellent leader in terms of bringing everyone together.”

Liberal senator James Paterson also said Peter Dutton was the right choice to lead the party.

“Any member of the party room is eligible to put their name forward … but my sense is there is a consensus forming that Peter Dutton is the right choice for these times,” he told Sky News.

Robert also addressed the Liberal party’s “woman problem” in the wake of an almost all-female slate of independents winning their seats and knocking off mainly moderate Liberal MPs.

“Everything is on the table … to ensure that we can properly represent every single part of Australia,” he said.

He pointed to the Sydney electorate of Fowler, where the “accomplished” Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally lost her tilt at the safe seat to an Independent, local professional woman Dai Le.

“These are all of the issues we will have to unpack,” he said.

On Sunday, senior Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham said the party would need to embrace a more ambitious climate target and preselect more women in its efforts to rebuild from its losses.

Birmingham said one of the key tasks will be to review the “what, why and who” of the party.

“The what and the why are issues such as climate change,” he told the ABC.

Given that Australia was well placed to exceed the coalition government’s 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 emissions cut target “of course we should commit to being able to go further”.

“The ‘what’ extends into other issues more broadly of equality and gender and, from there, the ‘who’ in particular extends into ensuring that as a party, we go back and regroup around all of those who Menzies spoke about – the ‘forgotten people’,” he said.

“We need to make sure we win back many more of those professionals and especially Australian women who are much more highly educated.”

Ex-prime minister Scott Morrison will formally step down from the Liberal leadership when the top job is spilled at the next party room meeting.

Dutton is widely expected to become the opposition leader although other names have been floated, including ex-home affairs minister and Queenslander Karen Andrews and former trade minister and Victorian Dan Tehan.

Birmingham, who will be the leading moderate in the party, said on Sunday he did not know who he would support for the leadership.

But whoever took the role would need to have a clear view of the task ahead, including preselecting more women.

Senator Michaelia Cash said a “true structural change in the way politics works in Australia” was afoot, pointing to inner city seats lost in various metropolitan centres from Perth to Sydney and Brisbane.

“We need to ensure that we are supporting those aspirational voters,” she told reporters on Sunday.

The biggest likely loss for the coalition is treasurer and Liberal deputy leader Josh Frydenberg, who is on track to lose his seat of Kooyong to teal independent Monique Ryan.

More Politics stories

Loading next article