Barnaby Joyce remains optimistic about maintaining his leadership of the Nationals as he prepares to face challenges from David Littleproud and Victorian MP Darren Chester.
Mr Joyce made his case on the Seven Network ahead of a town hall meeting on Monday, saying the junior coalition party must be doing something right given that it retained all of its seats in the federal election.
“We won all the seats we had before the election, we had three incumbents and still won the seats (and) we were within striking distance of one of the two seats we can take in the next election “, did he declare.
“The Liberals lost 19 seats.
Sign up for a 21 day FREE trial and get Crikey straight to your inbox
“In the last two elections, of which I was the leader, we only won seats. We have to do something right, but the job is not done.
Mr Joyce declined to say whether he needed numbers to stay ahead.
“It’s pride. You don’t run around telling people you have the numbers, you leave it to the room and I will do precisely that,” Mr Joyce said.
Although the Nationals retained all of their seats in the May 21 ballot under Mr Joyce, the former Deputy Prime Minister has been accused of having Liberal blood on his hands after his strong support for coal was turned downtown voters away from the seated moderate liberals.
Former moderate Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman, who lost his seat in North Sydney after a 12.5% swing against him, has accused national MPs of derailing the campaign for the inner city seats.
“There are a whole host of reasons why we have lost places in the city center like mine. Obviously climate change was one of the key issues,” he told the ABC.
National Sen. Matt Canavan’s strong support for coal mining and his opposition to the coalition’s policy of net zero emissions by 2050 impacted the vote in the downtown core, Zimmerman added.
“I thought Matt Canavan’s intervention was one of the deadliest moments for us.
“There was just an underlying suspicion that ultimately people like Canavan.. and Barnaby Joyce would prevail if we were elected.”
Mr Zimmerman called on the opposition to recognize Labor’s policy of a 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, which was significantly higher than the 26-28 per cent target the coalition had set at the election .
Mr Littleproud said over the weekend that now was the time to run to lead the Nationals ahead of the 2025 federal election.
Mr Joyce regained management of the Natoinals in June 2021 after replacing incumbent Michael McCormack.