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Warren Truss says he never wanted to lead the Nationals

RETIRING Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has told parliament how he never wanted to lead the Nationals.

Mr Truss gave his retirement speech in parliament in Canberra on Thursday, ahead of a ballot for the Nationals leadership held later that night.

Mr Truss said while he was "particularly honoured" to lead the Nationals, "when I became the leader in 2007, nobody wanted the job, including me".

"I'm pleased that now it seems everybody wants the job, and whoever becomes the leader I would be glad to serve under any one of them," he said.

Late on Thursday, Nationals Deputy Leader Barnaby Joyce was expected to stand unopposed to replace Mr Truss.

While Riverina MP Michael McCormack was tipped to take Mr Joyce's place as Deputy Leader, both Luke Hartsuyker and Darren Chester were understood to be considering standing for the role.

Mr Truss took the leadership in 2007 after the Howard Government lost power, a time Mr Truss said that "the media were saying we were finished".

But he said such comments had been made about the Nationals for 80 years, and "we seem to have survived our critics".

Mr Truss spoke fondly of his time in various ministerial roles during his 26 years in parliament, despite also not wanting the Agriculture portfolio.

"I had been involved in agricultural politics before and I knew how farmers treated their agriculture ministers," he said.

"You simply cannot achieve what your constituency expects of you."

Mr Truss said one of his most notable achievements was upgrading the Bruce Hwy. He said when he first got the Transport portfolio in the Howard Government, there were about 53 deaths on the highway every year, and the death toll was now averaging 17.

"That's far too many, but it does demonstrate investments in capital infrastructure not only have an economic benefit, but have a social benefit as well," he said.

Topics:  barnaby joyce deputy prime minister national party warren truss

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