The Nationals will renegotiate their coalition with the Liberal Party following a crushing federal election defeat, Barnaby Joyce says.
But Mr Joyce’s leadership of the junior Coalition party, and that of his deputy David Littleproud, will be spilled at a meeting of Nationals MPs next week.
“Once the election is over, you go back to two separate parties and negotiate a coalition,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“I’m very confident about the democratic process being the best way to determine which way a party goes, and I accept the outcome of it.”
Despite independent candidates successfully weaponising his unpopularity among inner-city voters, Mr Joyce said his role as deputy prime minister under the Coalition was not a drag on the Liberal Party.
“People are not that stupid … they know whether they’re voting for a Nationals candidate or Liberals candidate … there were a lot of other issues at play,” he said.
No members of the Nationals had told him his unpopularity had cost the government the election, he said.
Mr Joyce said the Nationals were successful at the election because they held on to all of their existing seats, unlike the Liberals.
But Nationals MP Darren Chester, a Victorian, said Mr Joyce could hardly take credit for the wins, given those seats were secured under different party leadership.
“It’s a bit spurious to simply point to the scoreboard and say we held our seats when most of those seats came on board during the period of Warren Truss’s leadership and then Michael McCormack held them,” he told ABC Radio.
Mr Chester is considering a tilt at the leadership at next week’s party room meeting.