Just days ago the National Party assured the nation “the shenanigans are over”, but now Barnaby Joyce has confirmed they have only just begun as he warned Scott Morrison his band of rebel supporters could cross the floor and block government legislation.
The former deputy prime minister confirmed to The New Daily that he had warned the Prime Minister on Thursday that the cabinet reshuffle had punished his supporters and risked creating a dangerous bloc of votes in Parliament.
The PM’s slim majority in the House of Representatives of just two votes could now be challenged by at least three Nationals MPs – Barnaby Joyce, George Christensen and Llew O’Brien – who he warned were prepared to vote down government legislation.
Speaking just two days after losing a leadership ballot against Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Mr Joyce said he had spoken to Mr Morrison around lunchtime to warn him the recent reshuffle had caused bad blood.
“Any party requires understanding of different views within a broad general ethos,” Mr Joyce told The New Daily.
“It is fair enough to say that Mr McCormack’s ministers are those who voted for him. That is, I believe, unhelpful.”
The threat came just 24 hours after Mr Joyce ridiculed the Nationals leader’s use of the word ‘learnings’ in an 800-word Facebook post.
The decision not to reinstate former resources minister Matt Canavan to the ministry after he resigned “pending the leadership ballot” to support Mr Joyce had angered the group.
In October, Senator Canavan was involved in a fiery clash with the Prime Minister over a coal-fired power generator where he allegedly turned the air blue shouting, “This is f—ed” at the PM.
He later said he could not remember swearing and claimed there were “quite a few things wrong in that story”.
“I can’t actually recall using that phrase, to be honest,” Senator Canavan said.
“I am sometimes pretty passionate – I don’t really make an apology for that.”
On Tuesday, when Mr McCormack narrowly won a ballot against Mr Joyce, he was asked if he would reinstate Senator Canavan in the cabinet.
In response, he pointedly said he “thanked Senator Canavan for his service”.
When he announced his new frontbench, Senator Canavan was not part of it.