JOYCE IN GYMPIE: Embattled Deputy Prime MInister Barnaby Joyce during a recent visit to Gympie.
JOYCE IN GYMPIE: Embattled Deputy Prime MInister Barnaby Joyce during a recent visit to Gympie. Rowan Schindler

Truss says Joyce can survive 'if he wants to'

BARNABY Joyce predecessor and Gympie's former Wide Bay MP Warren Truss says Mr Joyce can survive as Deputy Prime Minister, if he wants to.

As reports emerged that a delegation of Nationals MPs was being formed to urge Mr Joyce to at least "stand aside,” Mr Truss said Mr Joyce had been "greatly diminished” by news that a former staffer is pregnant with his child.

Mr Truss says the decision about Mr Joyce's future as Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister is ultimately in the hands of elected Nationals MPs, but he said Mr Joyce was a capable political operator who could deal with that sort of pressure.

"He can resolve these issues if he has a mind to,” Mr Truss told the ABC's 7.30 Report on Tuesday night.

At the same time, Mr Truss endorsed the comments of another former National Party leader, John Anderson who, according to the interviewer, had said Mr Joyce needed to take direct responsibility for resolving the political damage, with the danger it could "spiral out of control and end even more messily.”

"I think John has described the situation very well,” Mr Truss said.

"The issue certainly needs to be resolved and resolved quickly.”

Speaking from Brisbane, Mr Truss told interviewer 'Leigh Sales that Mr Joyce had suffered a damaging few days but added "people do bounce back.”

"Clearly the last few days have been damaging for Barnaby and therefore damaging also for the party but he has been an excellent leader. he's provided good results for the party over his time as leader and he clearly has the capacity to lead into the future if he's able to manage the issues that are currently being raised.

"There are many occasions when relationships fail, sadly in Parliament more often than in perhaps other walks of life.

"People are on pedestals and in a case like Barnaby, a very high pedestal.

"But he's a competent man. He's provided good leadership to the party and he can resolve these issues if he's of a mind to do so.”

Mr Truss called for political debate to return to issues of policy.

"The Government has a lot of important work to do and there have been so many side tracks over recent times, over citizenship and now an issue like this, it's time we started talking about tax reform, building infrastructure, doing the kinds of things good governments do.”

Mr Truss said if Mr Joyce was to avoid leaving the job he "needs to demonstrate that he's got the capacity to continue to do the job.

"Sadly there's been a break in a relationship and that's unsettling for him and for his family (and) all the people who have admired him and have been prepared to support him over the years.

"Certainly he's been diminished as a result of all this and he will need to work hard to once again win the confidence of the National Party supporters.

"He will need to work hard to convince people that he's able to do the job effectively in the future and that is going to be a decision he has to make.”

Asked about moves to seek his resignation, Mr Truss said that was not his department any longer.

"I think what happens in the party room is a matter for the party room and certainly I'm not there and so I can't vouch for those reports one way or another but National Party Members of Parliament would be remiss in their duties to the electorate if they weren't seeking to resolve this issue constructively and quickly so that the business of government can proceed.

Gympie Times

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