Federal Election 2016: Barnaby Joyce flags trade agreements, rural bank as priorities in Coalition talks
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has given his strongest indication yet of his priorities for Coalition agreement negotiations with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Barnaby Joyce inclined to "hold on" to his agriculture and water portfolio
Nationals eager to "bed down" new Regional Investment Corporation
Mr Joyce says all possible free trade agreements should be considered and existing ones finalised
The Deputy Prime Minister revealed he spoke with Mr Turnbull on Wednesday morning, but declined to give further details of that conversation.
Mr Joyce, also Agriculture and Water Minister, said he was inclined to hold on to his portfolio in this term, "but it's not set in stone yet".
He also suggested the Nationals wanted the lead on creating a new rural development bank, and they would be pitching for some form of trade responsibility.
But Mr Joyce gave no indication the party wanted to take Cabinet responsibility for trade.
"If you're talking about making sure that our trade agreements have a strong weighting towards agricultural products then you need someone in trade, a trade-type portfolio," he said.
"I want to make sure I bed down this new Regional Investment Corporation; that's very important to me that we get this form of ag bank up and running, so I want to make sure we manage that."
Earlier this week, the ABC reported the Nationals were keen to push for the Regional Investment Corporation to be administered by the Department of Agriculture.
He played down speculation there had been an internal push for his Cabinet colleague, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, to step aside.
Mr Scullion was re-elected unopposed as the National party's Senate leader, despite Liberal and National sources telling the ABC doubts had been raised about his future role.
"[Nigel] has a great love of his portfolio in dealing with Aboriginal people and Indigenous affairs, " Mr Joyce said.
"He's obviously got a right as leader of the Senate to get a position in Cabinet and he's got the endorsement of his colleagues."
Trade a priority for next term
Mr Joyce said he wanted to ensure the Coalition investigated all possible free trade agreement opportunities and finalised others.
"For instance, the India Free Trade Agreement for the export of protein grains, your chickpeas and bean crops into India," he said.
"Make sure we are progressing that and if I have to go for a wander over there to say g'day to a few people that we get going there.
"The Gulf states are very important for the movement of some of our meat product."
Mr Joyce indicated the Nationals would also be keen to hang on to their existing regional communications, infrastructure and transport, and regional development responsibilities.
Promises of funding for road and bridge upgrades, dam construction and planning, and more mobile phone towers were all key election commitments from the Coalition.
Mr Joyce said he was eager for all seats to be declared so that he could "get going" on his election commitments, like relocating the Australian Pests and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, in his own electorate.
Source: ABC News