Flying high with return of Barnaby Joyce to slot of Deputy Prime Minister, under pressure Malcolm Turnbull took no time to claim to lead the Nationals-Liberal coalition to next general elections.
Barnaby Joyce enjoyed a landslide in the New England by-election on Saturday and crushed his 16 rivals with a 12 per swing towards him to achieve a primary vote of 64 per cent. By-election was called after he was found to be a dual-citizen by the High Court.
Various Nationals leaders are upset with Prime Minister’s leadership after LNP poor performance in Queensland elections and their failure to ensure religious protections in SSM bill. Turnbull on Thursday announced a Banking Royal Commission after succumbing to growing pressure from some Nationals senators but it could not bridge the gap and on eve of New England by-election, NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro called for Mr Turnbull to resign as a “Christmas gift” to Australians.
Elated with Joyce victory, Turnbull expressed hope that Joyce return to Canberra would bring discipline in Nationals rank.
“I am very confident we will be able to see a disciplined approach to teamwork within the coalition,” Turnbull told Sky News on Sunday morning. “Having Barnaby back as (Nationals) leader is obviously very important”, he maintained.
Mr Turnbull said the 12 per cent swing towards Mr Joyce was a real poll and that was a vote for the Coalition.
“I have every confidence that I will lead the Coalition to the next election in 2019 and we will win it,” he told Sky News.
On dual citizenship, Turnbull warned Labor leader Bill Shorten to refer doubtful Labor MPS to High Court failing upon government will use their numbers to refer them. He believed at least three Labor MPs did not receive confirmation their dual citizenship had been renounced until after they were nominated or elected’
On the issue of religious protections in SSM bill which would be table in lower house of the Parliament on Monday for debate, Turnbull said he would vote for minor amendments on same-sex marriage to protect religious freedoms.
He promises personal income tax cuts will be announced before the 2019 federal election.
“How much we can do and when we do it will depend on the budgetary circumstances but we do have the ability to do it,” the prime minister told Sky News. He also said that his government would stay committed to its company tax cuts and fight for them again at the next election.