11 July 2016
by Matthew Knott

Barnaby Joyce wants Coalition agreement to be secret

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says the Nationals will "drive a hard bargain" in the next Parliament, including a likely extra position in cabinet, but that he wants to keep secret the conditions of a written agreement to be signed with the Liberal Party.

When Malcolm Turnbull was elevated to the prime ministership last September he signed a new Coalition agreement with then Nationals leader Warren Truss.

The Deputy PM and Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos are confident the Coalition will win in Flynn and Capricornia to reach the magic 76 number to form a majority government.

Although never released publicly, the agreement was widely reported to include support for a new "effects test" in competition law, a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, more support for stay-at-home mothers and the return of the water portfolio to the Nationals.

Asked what he would be pushing for under a new agreement with Mr Turnbull following the election, Mr Joyce told Sky News on Sunday: "The first aspiration is the agreement remains confidential. That's aspiration one, two, three, four, five and six."

"We always have a written agreement so there are never any arguments later about what's going on."

The Nationals feel emboldened by the election result, which will see them pick up an extra seat while the Liberals have gone backwards. There has been some speculation the Nationals may push to claim back their traditional portfolio of trade.

Mr Joyce said the proportion of Nationals in cabinet would be "ruthlessly determined by the numbers".

"There's nothing clandestine, sinister or remarkable about this - it's just a proportionality argument," he said. "If we're entitled to a position we'll ask for that position."