Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has admitted he is confident the official re-structuring of the Nationals this week will allow the party to move forward and focus on issue-based politics.
Speaking for the first time since being sworn in as Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Mr Coulton said it is time for party members to put the saga surrounding former leader Barnaby Joyce behind them.
He, along with Victorian MP Darren Chester, were the big winners in the ministerial reshuffle, with Mr Chester taking on new Nationals leader Michael McCormack’s former portfolio of Veteran’s Affairs, while Mr McCormack became Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“It’s good to be talking about the issues again, like building the inland rail and the new Trans-Pacific Partnership that’s coming soon,” Mr Coulton said.
“The things that have been going on with Barnaby and his private matters have been a distraction but I think we’re at a point now where we can hopefully get back to work.
“Barnaby is a talent, there’s no doubt about that, and he has been very good for regional Australia, but I supported Michael McCormack to be the new leader and I think he will do a very good job as well.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Barnaby will be back. I don’t see him plotting from the back bench, but he has a lot to offer and when the time is right he still has plenty to offer the party.”
Mr Coulton’s new role will see him working closely with Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as they work on continuing relationships to trade and tourism partners across the globe.