Michael McCormack, Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Barnaby Joyce.
Michael McCormack, Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Barnaby Joyce.

O’Brien, Barnaby rebels threaten Coalition power, stability

WIDE Bay MP and Barnaby Joyce backer Llew O'Brien has warned the Morrison Government to not take his vote for granted on rural and regional issues amid anger within the Nationals that none of former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce's supporters received ministry jobs following Tuesday's failed leadership spill.

 

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It was Mr O'Brien who moved the motion against National Party leader Michael McCormack. The spill and ensuing portfolio reshuffle rewarded those who stayed loyal to Mr McCormack, a move that has angered Mr Joyce and his "rebel" team.

The disunity and bitterness within the National Party now leaves the Federal Government - which only has a two-seat majority in the lower house - vulnerable to lack of support from Mr O'Brien, Mr Joyce and National MP George Christensen.

National Party leader Michael McCormack has retained his position after Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien initiated a leadership spill on Tuesday.
National Party leader Michael McCormack has retained his position after Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien initiated a leadership spill on Tuesday.

Mr O'Brien and Mr Joyce have both now indicated the government should not take their votes for granted in passing legislation.

"Crossing the floor is something I've always considered on every vote," Mr O'Brien said in today's Australian newspaper.

"You can't take my vote for granted...I'll be looking at everything."

Wide Bay member Llew O'Brien recognises the volunteer's hard work during the 30th anniversary celebrations for Graham House Community Centre in Murgon on Saturday, October 26. (PHOTO: Jessica McGrath)
Wide Bay member Llew O'Brien recognises the volunteer's hard work during the 30th anniversary celebrations for Graham House Community Centre in Murgon on Saturday, October 26. (PHOTO: Jessica McGrath)

Mr Morrison's new ministry has come under fire for being short of talent and unbalanced, but Mr McCormack says the portfolio positions represent experience and new talent.

One of Mr Joyce's supporters, Matt Canavan, resigned from his role as resources minister on Monday night to publicly back Mr Joyce for the leadership, saying the party needed "a bulldog" and "a fighter".

After the vote, Mr McCormack declined to reinstate him on the frontbench, instead promoting Queensland MP Keith Pitt, a former sugar cane farmer, tradesman and engineer.

Keith Pitt is sworn in by Governor General David Hurley at ceremony at Government House in Canberra, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Keith Pitt is sworn in by Governor General David Hurley at ceremony at Government House in Canberra, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

"Matt Canavan has resigned as resources minister. I wish him the best," the Deputy Prime Minister said when asked about Mr Canavan's fate.

The ministry reshuffle also followed the resignation of Bridget McKenzie, who was mired in the sport rorts scandal.

The Australian reports Mr Joyce spoke to Mr Morrison around noon yesterday, telling him promoting only Mr McCormack's loyalists was "not smart" and had put the government in a "precarious position".

Nationals Member for Dawson George Christensen and Nationals member for New England Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Nationals Member for Dawson George Christensen and Nationals member for New England Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Mr Joyce said his supporters were "very aware" they held the balance of power.

"It is fair enough to say that Mr McCormack's ministers are those who voted for him. That is, I believe, unhelpful," he said

"This is about revenge," Insiders host David Speers told News Breakfast this morning.

"This is Barnaby Joyce saying, look, Michael McCormack, sure he won the leadership, but he didn't promote any of my backers, so we might now vote down government legislation."

Host Michael Rowland asked how likely it was that Mr Joyce would try to take the leadership again.

David Littleproud listens to Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage
David Littleproud listens to Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage

"You'd have to say pretty likely," Speers replied.

"The guy looks bent on destruction right now. And I think if we see any sort of wrong step or stuff-up from Michael McCormack, if we see the polls go down, if we see perhaps a bad result in the Queensland election, then Barnaby Joyce will, you would expect, take the opportunity to have another go."