Barnaby Joyce could return as deputy prime minister and is ‘still a leader’ in the Nationals party room, a staunch ally says.
Barnaby Joyce could return as deputy prime minister and is ‘still a leader’ in the Nationals party room, a staunch ally says.

Barnaby Joyce ‘could return’ as leader

Barnaby Joyce is "still a leader" and could return as deputy Prime Minister, Matt Canavan says.

Mr Joyce has endured a prickly relationship with his successor Michael McCormack since resigning as leader three years ago, including a failed leadership challenge last year.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan has told Sky News although he "couldn't speak for Barnaby", he left the door open for him to return to the leadership.

"I think at some point he could be leader again. He still is a leader in terms of the political debate. Look, you never say never in politics," he said.

Mr Joyce resigned as leader in 2018, saying the move was necessary to "clear the air" after revelations of his affair with a staffer and an allegation of sexual harassment.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan says Barnaby Joyce could return to the leadership. Picture: Gary Ramage
Nationals senator Matt Canavan says Barnaby Joyce could return to the leadership. Picture: Gary Ramage

He has used the freedom afforded by the backbench to take aim at Mr McCormack, warning simmering tensions behind the scene "did not bode well for any relationship".

He also lashed the Coalition as "no marriage of equals" in January, comments his leader publicly played down.

Mr Canavan warned against viewing "everything through the leadership prism", saying his former leader was enjoying his current role.

"I think he's moved on a bit, and getting on with his job as a member of the New England," he said.

Mr Canavan resigned from the frontbench to support Mr Joyce’s leadership tilt. Picture: Gary Ramage
Mr Canavan resigned from the frontbench to support Mr Joyce’s leadership tilt. Picture: Gary Ramage

"He's got the same sort of freedom as a backbencher, and obviously has a willingness to use that freedom.

"I think we're playing a very useful role in pushing these debates and getting outcomes."

Mr Joyce attempted to topple Mr McCormack in February last year, arguing he would give the party its best chance at the next election.

But despite Mr Joyce's commitment to back the leadership team after losing the ballot, rumblings of discontent have continued.

Mr Canavan played a crucial role in the spill, resigning from the frontbench to support Mr Joyce's bid.

Mr McCormack dismissed calls to return him to a cabinet role after winning the ballot.

Originally published as Barnaby 'could return' as leader



Man accused of setting mum of three alight, killing her

Premium Content Man accused of setting mum of three alight, killing her

The estranged partner of a mum found dead has been charged with murder

DON'T MISS OUT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

DON'T MISS OUT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

How you could win a share in $500k

Even with a good job, you may not get a rental

Premium Content Even with a good job, you may not get a rental

Grim data shows housing crisis is affecting more people than ever