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Barnaby Joyce demanded extra spot in cabinet in secret written agreement with Scott Morrison

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce went to the Lodge to meet with Scott Morrison armed with a non-negotiable, written demand.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce expressly demanded an extra spot in cabinet as a non-negotiable condition of backing a new climate change target in a secret written agreement.

News.com.au has confirmed that the return of the resources portfolio to cabinet was demanded in writing, and that Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed to that request during a meeting at the Lodge with Mr Joyce and his deputy David Littleproud.

It was not a handshake agreement or a side deal but is expressly referenced in the secret agreement agreed to by the Prime Minister and the Nationals.

While it was always expected the Nationals would request an extra spot in cabinet, the written demand was presented to Nationals MPs on Sunday in a document that was collected from MPs in the meeting to ensure it did not leak to journalists.

The demand was then presented to the Prime Minister in a list of the Nationals’ non-negotiables at the Lodge.

Less than 24 hours after that meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promptly announced on Monday that Nationals MP Keith Pitt would be elevated back into the cabinet, just months after he was demoted.

“Minister Pitt is a powerful voice for the resources sector and ensuring that we build upon Australia’s strength in traditional exports, while harnessing opportunities in the new energy economy and critical minerals,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

“Minister Pitt has been a strong advocate for regional and rural communities, both in his portfolio responsibilities and as a local MP.”

Earlier today, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham was grilled over whether he understood Mr Pitt would be returning to cabinet.

“Tell the truth!” Labor Senator Penny Wong said.

While it is not a new Coalition agreement, the new demands to agree to the climate change target now stand as a de facto amendment to the secret agreement that underpins the Morrison government.

The Liberals and Nationals maintain separate organisational wings and separate parliamentary parties, but govern on the basis of formal agreements and informal conventions.

In the past, the Coalition agreement has remained secret. But elements of it have often leaked.

For example, when Malcolm Turnbull took the leadership from Tony Abbott in September of 2015, it was a condition of forming government that a plebiscite on marriage equality be part of the Coalition agreement.

Barnaby Joyce has told colleagues he doesn’t support net zero by 2050 but will back the majority view.

Multiple MPs have told news.com.au the Deputy Prime Minister told his party room that while he didn’t support net zero, he was happy to accept the will of a the majority of his colleagues.

When asked on ABC Breakfast, Mr Littleproud refused to say whether Mr Joyce personally supported the target.

“I’m not going to get into individuals,” Mr Littleproud said.

Host Michael Rowland shot back: “You’re his deputy. You should know.”

“I do, but I won’t tell you, because what happens in our party room stays in the sanctity of that party room,” he replied.”

Read related topics:Scott Morrison


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