Barnaby Joyce has for the first time publicly indicated he will seek the leadership of the National Party.
In recent months the Minister for Agriculture and Resources has been accused of agitating for the position of deputy prime minister and of attempting to speed up current leader Warren Truss’ departure.
Mr Joyce brushed off those allegations in September, emphasising his loyalty to the long-time leader and staying mum on any future plans to lead.
But on Thursday, the deputy Nationals leader told Fairfax Media “It’s a job I can do, but I’m not in a rush”.
“The closer you get to the job – and I am close, being the deputy – the more aware you become of the work involved,” he said.
In the interview, Mr Joyce said he would wait until Truss was ready to vacate the position he had held for eight years.
Warren Truss is weighing up his future in federal parliament ahead of the next election and many have speculated he could announce his retirement in weeks.
Mr Truss has been the member for Wide Bay in Queensland since 1990 and a leader of the National Party since 2007.
The party played down a health scare at the end of 2014 that saw the 66-year old spend time in hospital with colitis, calling it “minor”.
Barnaby Joyce is perhaps best known to some Australians as the man who threatened to exterminate actor Johnny Depp’s dogs after he illegally brought them into Australia.
Mr Joyce has also expressed skepticism of climate change, and has opposed same-sex marriage in the past, saying he worried a change to the marriage act may affect the ability of his daughters to achieve a “secure relationship with a loving husband”.