Dugald Saunders rules out #natspill as Peter Beattie welcomes 'NRL fan in The Lodge'

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro's job is safe, from Dugald Saunders at least!
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro's job is safe, from Dugald Saunders at least!

A desire to provide some leadership on the drought and power prices prompted Dugald Saunders to put his hand up for the 2019 state election.

Mr Saunders was revealed as the National candidate following preselection last Saturday, with Dubbo MP Troy Grant and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro joining him for the announcement.

But after a week that saw Malcolm Turnbull deposed as Prime Minister, Mr Saunders ruled out a #natspill to rival #libspill.

“Negative. No I don’t,” he said when asked if he had aspirations for Mr Barilaro’s job.

“When I say leadership I mean … being part of the team of the Nationals.

“But I think the Nationals are leading regional NSW into the future and led to where this electorate has got to now – it’s because of the strong leadership of our current member and the team of Nationals that have made it happen. That’s what I want to be a part of.”

NRL chairman Peter Beattie was reluctant to weigh in on the Liberal party’s leadership turmoil when he visited Dubbo last weekend.

The former Queensland Labor Premier would also not be drawn on whether his former party had learned its lessons after the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.

But he did congratulate new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying “it’s great to have an NRL fan in The Lodge”.

“I couldn’t think of anything better,” Mr Beattie said.

“He’s a great Sharks supporter so I’m absolutely delighted we’ve got a rugby league man running the country. That’s good for Australia!”