Federal Election 2016: Nationals MP Darren Chester says he has never seen Liberal-National Coalition agreement
Nationals MP and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester has revealed that not even he has seen the agreement made between the Liberal and National parties, as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten ramps up pressure for transparency on the issue.
Mr Shorten has called for the agreement between the two parties to be made public, saying it is not a good start for the government if its "first action is to have a secret deal".
But Mr Chester slapped down the call for the detail of the agreement to be released, saying it wasn't "a question of what people deserve to know, or whether I do know or don't know".
The Minister told Lateline he had "never actually read the agreement myself", and said the move to have the agreement scrutinised was political game playing by Mr Shorten.
The last Coalition agreement yielded successes including changes to water policy, the introduction of the effects test and funding to reduce mobile phone black spots for the National Party, following Malcolm Turnbull's rise as leader.
However, Mr Chester said he didn't believe the new agreement would contain "a long shopping list of issues", but rather "broad principles of how the Coalition operates".
"(The agreement) has never been made public before, and I can understand why Bill would like to see a copy of it, because it would probably help him to beat us next time," Mr Chester said.
"To pretend it's some great secret is, I think, a bit mischievous."
Some Nationals MPs and senators, unhappy with the way Tony Abbott was cut down as leader, told the ABC last year the socially conservative Nationals should not rush into a Coalition agreement with Mr Turnbull.
At the time, then-deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce called for his party's "key values" to be considered, with one member of the National Party labelling the Liberals "clowns" for switching leaders.
Other members of the party described those comments as merely "blowing off steam".
But Mr Chester, who has been the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport since February, said the Coalition agreement had "served Australia well in many incarnations over many years through different leadership teams."
Chester coy on increased representation for Nationals
Mr Chester told Lateline he was "very reluctant to talk about the numbers because it sounds like I'm dancing on the grave of some of my political friends in the Liberal Party" who have lost seats.
But he acknowledged the agreement "is remorselessly government by the numbers," with the Nationals confident they will be able to gain an extra spot in the ministry, or even in cabinet.
"The numbers do speak for themselves, and if we're in a stronger position proportionally there will be an increase in the ministerial representation for the National Party."
Mr Chester also hailed generational change in the party as an "untold story" following the retirement of long time party leader Warren Truss and elder party figures such as Ron Boswell.
"Eight years ago, I joined the party and there were a lot of older members who'd served our party well, [had] been there for a long time but were in their 60s and beyond.
"And it's happened again during this campaign where we've got a few younger members coming through.
"So I think we've got a strong and a vibrant team which is going to campaign very vigorously on behalf of regional Australia," he said.
"The success of our campaign was very much down to being a good grassroots campaign.
"Having (Government) Ministers available to us to raise issues of concern to regional Australia, and making sure we're in touch with our communities is the key to our success."
Mr Chester said it would be "reckless" to speculate on who might be offered the new role in the Government ministry, but said there is a "long list to choose from".
"I look around the room and all I see is talent," he said, offering up Damian Drum in the seat of Murray, and veteran Senator Brigid McKenzie who he said had been an "Outstanding" senator, as well as Riverina MP Michael McCormack.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan is also considered a leading candidate for promotion.
Source: ABC News