federal member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.01 April 2015Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
federal member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.01 April 2015Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Hartsuyker keeps mum on possible leadership bid

COWPER MP Luke Hartsuyker is keeping his cards close to his chest in regards to a possible tilt at a leadership position within the Nationals party room.

"The Nationals made a decision that they would not elect a deputy leader in the interim period and I'll be reserving my judgement with regards to that until such time as we know the outcome of the by-election to be held on December 2," Mr Hartsuyker said.

When pressed on the fact that there must be an election for the deputy leader of the Nationals in Canberra since former deputy, Senator Fiona Nash, was deemed ineligible to have held office by the High Court of Australia, Mr Hartsuyker continued to let that line of questioning go through to the 'keepr.

"That's something that I will give consideration to at the time," he said.

When an election for the Nationals leadership was last held in February 2016, Mr Hartsuyker nominated himself for the position of deputy leader but was beaten in a secret ballot by Mrs Nash.

Another parliamentarian ousted by the High Court decision was the party's leader Banaby Joyce.

Even though he's held the portfolio of Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Hartsuyker admits that since the legal ruling was made there's been very little contact between himself and Mr Joyce.

"He's obviously very busy with campaigning in Tamworth as part of the interim arrangements while we await the result of the New England by-election," he said.

Despite a change of title from Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister to Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr Hartsuyker said his responsibilities in the interim period are fairly much as they were.

"We'll be doing a range of duties that were previously undertaken out of Mr Joyce's office to assist the Prime Minister who has been sworn in as Minister for Agriculture," he said.

"I will basically be helping in that role as part of interim arrangements."

As the 16th anniversary of his election into the House of Representatives approaches, Mr Hartsuyker said he wasn't disappointed that he was promoted into a ministerial role while Mr Joyce is unable to tend to agriculture affairs.

"I'm quite pleased with the position that I hold and I think given that these are interim arrangements, the aim was to make things as seamless as possible," he said.

"Transferring duties amongst existing Ministers was very much the strategy that was put in put in place so that the business of government can continue, efficiently until the result of the New England by-election is known."