A defiant Barnaby Joyce has insisted he will re-contest the seat of New England at the next election in the face of growing anger within his own party.
Nationals colleagues have cast doubts on their former leader’s future in Parliament after his tell-all interview about his affair with Vikki Campion aired on Channel Seven on Sunday.
“Of course I am running again, the first people I would tell if I wasn’t would be the electorate,” Mr Joyce told the ABC on Tuesday.
“I’m still working for New England, I’m having meetings in the electorate today.”
Mr Joyce lashed out some of his colleagues during his paid interview with Channel Seven, labelling some unnamed people “absolute scum of the Earth”.
Those remarks intensified speculation that Mr Joyce might decide to give up his political career.
Queensland MP Ken O’Dowd and former party leader John Anderson were among those who suggested Mr Joyce needed to consider his political future.
Mr O’Dowd on Tuesday morning said the former deputy prime minister needed to make a “crucial decision” and consider his future ahead of a possible federal election next year.
“I think it’s very important for the people of Tamworth and New England that they know they’ve got someone there who is going to be in there fighting for them,” he told ABC radio.
“Over to you, Barnaby, and best of luck with whatever you decide.
Mr Anderson told the ABC Mr Joyce should consider whether being in public life was in his baby son Sebastian’s best interests.
“I would gently encourage Barnaby and Vikki to think very carefully about [Sebastian’s] best interests, to the point of considering whether they are properly served while his father is in public life,” he told The Australian.
“Barnaby himself told us in the interview how tough it is to maintain a stable family environment when you are a member of federal parliament.”
Mr Anderson, who retired from politics in 2007 after 18 years in Parliament, confirmed he had been approached to make a return to federal politics.
He said the approachers were was mostly “joshing”, but that one of them might have been a suggestion that he should seriously consider a comeback.
If Mr Joyce does run at the next election, his fate will be in the hands of New England pre-selectors.
“It will be ultimately those Nationals preselectors in New England and the electors of New England that will pass their judgment,” another former party leader, Tim Fischer, said.
“He has a lot of bridge-building to do, and he knows that.”