“I must say, it is spectacular when you turn on the television and the nation is talking about the leadership of the National Party.”
Soaking up the enormity of the moment, a humbled Barnaby Joyce addressed a packed press conference once the Federal Parliamentary team had delivered the news that he would be our next Leader following the retirement of Warren Truss. Beside him at the press conference stood Fiona Nash, who had just made Party history as the first female Deputy Leader of the Party.
Our new Leaders were swiftly welcomed into Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s reshuffled Cabinet on Saturday. Barnaby retained his role as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, while Fiona picked up an additional two portfolios. Fiona will now take on further responsibilities as the Minister for Regional Development and the Minister for Regional Communications alongside her pre-existing Rural Health portfolio.
While congratulating our new Federal Leaders who will spearhead this year’s Federal Election, we bid farewell to our sixth longest serving Federal Leader Warren Truss. During his 26 years in Parliament, Warren has overseen billions of dollars in road and regional infrastructure upgrades across the country. This includes the Inland Rail project, which on completion will reduce freight transit times by more than 10 hours between Brisbane and Melbourne, and the approval of a new airport at Badgery’s Creek in Western Sydney.
In 2013, during his eight year stint as Federal Leader, he led The Nationals to their best federal election result in 30 years. The Party gained three additional seats in the House of Representatives. Of his retirement Warren said:
“In my early years I was always talked about as the youngest National President of Rural Youth, the youngest Councillor, the youngest Mayor, but now that I’m numbered among the oldest, I think it’s time to go.”
Though it’s sad to see Warren go, together Barnaby and Fiona make a dynamic team, a team that will fight for those they represent - a team with strength and determination, guts and guile. But above all these qualities, they are passionate about the needs of regional people. None said it better than Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson AO last year, in honour of Barnaby and Fiona’s 10 year anniversary in Parliament:
“Both Barnaby and Fiona I think are notable for their great passion for their jobs. They’re both strong personalities, they’re both prepared to be outspoken… they burn with commitment to the things they believe in and the contribution those things can make to better outcomes for Australians in general, but of course for rural and regional Australians in particular. It’s deep, it’s palpable and you’re aware of it from the moment you enter their presence.”