Truss backers reject 'silly season retirement speculation'

Gympie's Wide Bay MP and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says he will not add to 'speculation' that he might retire within a fortnight, but backers say he could easily stay on another three years.
Gympie's Wide Bay MP and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says he will not add to 'speculation' that he might retire within a fortnight, but backers say he could easily stay on another three years. Luka Kauzlaric

RUMOURS of retirement for Deputy Prime Minister and Gympie's Wide Bay MP Warren Truss have been dismissed as silly season mischief put about by people who want his job.

Mr Truss's supporters say he has the role of National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister for as long as he wants and there is no substance to retirement rumours.

Mr Truss's staff say the talk is "speculation" and Mr Truss has said there is quite enough noise on the subject already, without him adding to it.

Supporters say the retirement stories emerged mainly over the Christmas-New Year's break, when real stories are harder to find and people with an interest see the chance to float their own self-interested ideas.

The person they seem to be talking about is Barnaby Joyce, who reportedly gave media interviews this month saying he was ready for Mr Truss's job.

Other MPs say Mr Joyce's support is far from unanimous and that Mr Truss may be staying on to maintain a steadier leadership style than many seem to expect from Mr Joyce.

Nationals MP John Cobb has strongly criticised those pushing the line that Mr Truss will quit by February, that is, within two weeks.

Mr Cobb says Mr Truss could be there for another three years.

He says the retirement speculation originated in the media looking for a story and ambitious Nationals wanting to manipulate the discussion.

"It's their speculation," he told The Australian Financial Review. "Warren hasn't said a word."

He says the Nationals party room would have to be sure that "whoever they elect is sound enough, smart enough, calm enough and measured enough to make the whole country comfortable in the knowledge that if there was an emergency they would handle it in a very proper way."

 A possible challenger for Mr Joyce is MP Michael McCormack, who also dismissed the Truss retirement talk. Asked if he would throw his hat into the ring when Mr Truss retires, he replied: "There's no ring to be throwing my hat into."

Mr Truss says he will not add to the speculation already being promoted by others.

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