National Party leadership statement
Transcript of interview with David Dowsett, ABC Wide Bay re National Party leadership. To listen to the full segment click here.
David Dowsett: Warren Truss ending that report, well now to the Nationals Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt who unsuccessfully ran for the deputy role in the Nationals. Keith Pitt, what do you make of Barnaby’s rise to the top?
Keith Pitt: Well, let me say, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a member of the Nationals party room David, I’ve got to tell you, but I’m sure Barnaby will be a fantastic leader. The Nationals are a party that are famous for its stability, we’ve had just 12 leaders, and now Barnaby is number 13, in over 90 years.
While I have the opportunity I would like to just absolutely express my thanks and gratitude to Warren Truss. Warren has been a servant of the people of Wide Bay, the people of Australia and the Federal Parliament for over 26 years, by the time he finishes, and I think it’s been an incredible innings and he’s certainly been an incredibly stable hand for our party, but I’m sure as Barnaby and Malcolm sit down today to have a discussion about a new coalition, which is simply part of the process when the leader of either party changes, and they look to form their ministry I certainly ask them to keep an eye out for Queensland. There are a number of my colleagues who I think have a genuine ability, who are genuine contenders, whether it’s Senator Barry O’Sullivan, who has just an enormous amount of life experience, even my colleague George Christensen from Dawson. George is of course a very outspoken member of the Nationals party room, but he’s a very intelligent man, he’s stood on his feet and I think both of them have real potential. But the Nationals of course, we are made up of real people, our party room consists of economists, and bankers and farmers and shearers and small business people, people who were book keepers, who worked in universities, it’s such a broad range of real practical experience, so it’s great to be involved with my kind of people David, people with common sense.
David Dowsett: You mentioned Barnaby Joyce there will be a great leader, why do you think that, what will he bring to the mix?
Keith Pitt: Well, Barnaby’s certainly different, we all bring a different range of skills to the parliament, Barnaby of course is a well-known person across the country, he’s outspoken, he speaks his mind, he’s also very attuned to regional Australia and to the people we represent and those are the ones that are in the regions. The Nationals are the only party who are there solely for regional Australia and I’m sure Barnaby will go on to be a fantastic representative not only for them, but for all of the members of the Nationals party room.
David Dowsett: So what can we expect for regional Australia now?
Keith Pitt: Well, we’re continuing to work on the things that are important to us, and of course, to our constituents, and that’s around communications, and at the moment of course the biggest issue, and certainly in our area, is unemployment. When the last coalition agreement was signed, we had a policy agreement in there with Malcolm Turnbull and our colleagues, the Liberal party, for the development of a regional employment package and I’m sure that that’s something which will be underway, if not, announced in the very near future.
David Dowsett: Senator Fiona Nash is the first female deputy leader of the Nationals, does that really herald a new era for the Nationals?
Keith Pitt: Well David look, I think in our party room, it’s all about what you bring to the game, regardless of your gender. Fiona is highly qualified and highly capable, she’s been here for more than a decade. She comes from a rural background, she still owns farms with her husband and her children, I think she’ll be an outstanding deputy leader for the National party and certainly brings a different perspective.
David Dowsett: You put your hand up for the role, are you disappointed?
Keith Pitt: It’s a tough game David, I was asked by my Queensland colleagues to ensure that our state had representation in the ballot and I was quite happy to do that. But politics, as you know, is a game that is brutally governed by the numbers and while I was very pleased to have the support of a number of colleagues, unfortunately I didn’t get the jersey. But I’ll never die from a lack of trying, I have to say.
David Dowsett: So overall, as we head towards the next election, is there a bit of spring in the step now?
Keith Pitt: I think there’s always been a spring in the step, it’s an absolute privilege to work here, to represent our constituents and for me, of course, that’s the people of Hinkler, it’s something I think about every day. When you come into this place and see the Australian flag flying above Parliament you realise just how humbling it is to be able to represent the people who are your friends, and colleagues, the people that you grew up with, it’s a very important role and I certainly do my utmost for the people of the electorate.
David Dowsett: Keith Pitt, thanks very much.
Keith Pitt: No problems at all.