Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: A defiant Barnaby Joyce says he will not quit over his affair with former staffer, Vikki Campion. Despite National Party officials holding a phone hook-up late yesterday to discuss the ongoing crisis. Mr Joyce has told Fairfax papers he has been in heaps of fights during his political life and he is not going to run away from another one. And News Corp is reporting Barnaby's estranged wife, Natalie, does not want him to lose his job, voicing concerns Joyce’s colleagues are undermining him as they jostle for the leadership. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will be Acting Prime Minister from tomorrow night instead of Barnaby Joyce, who is now on a week’s leave, and he joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning to you, welcome.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Barnaby Joyce seems to be digging in, standing his ground, saying this is just another fight. Does that surprise you? You know him.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Barnaby is a good friend and valued colleague. He is a very effective politician. He has been an important part of our Government, implementing our plan for more jobs and higher wages. In the end, the leadership of the National Party is a matter for the National Party. We have done good work with the National Party over the last four years and I look forward to doing more good work for Australia in the years ahead.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: I think a lot of Australians might be sick of hearing about this by now, but it is the story that keeps on giving isn’t it? So we are not dropping it. Natalie Joyce, Barnaby’s estranged wife, has accused some in the National Party of undermining her estranged husband. Do you think Nationals MPs can smell the blood in the water and their chance to lead the Party? Is that what this has now become?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to get into internal National Party matters. Our focus is on progressing our plan to secure more jobs and higher wages…interrupted.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: But this could affect the Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Liberal and National Parties have delivered good Government for the past four years. We are a strong and united team. I am confident that we will continue to provide good Government hopefully for many years to come. This has been a distraction this past week. It is a deeply personal matter for Mr Joyce, his family and his new partner for that matter, but it is not really something that will continue to affect the Government.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: The Coalition is not really a united team at the moment, though is it? It is Malcolm Turnbull v Barnaby Joyce and that is quite a fight there. Should Barnaby Joyce resign in the hope that this matter will go away?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce have done very good work together in our national interest and I am very confident that they will continue to do good work together into the future. They have got a strong and productive relationship, yes at times a robust relationship. They are two strong individuals. They are two strong leaders. As I have already indicated, in the end, the leadership of the National Party is a matter for the National Party. I am very confident that the Liberal and National Party Coalition will continue to focus on doing what we can to put Australia on the strongest possible economic foundation for the future, so that Australian families today and in the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Okay Minister, well good luck being Acting PM this week.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: We hope it is a bit calmer than last week.