Statement of Nationals Leadership

This evening I have spoken to the Deputy Prime Minister offering my resignation as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia pending a ballot for leadership positions of the Nationals party tomorrow morning.

I do so because I have come to the view that we need change in the Nationals party leadership to effectively fight for regional Australia. Given that, it is appropriate that I stand down from the Cabinet.

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for allowing me to serve in the Cabinet. The Coalition has achieved a lot and will continue to deliver for all Australians.

However, it my view that forthright leadership from the Nationals party is needed more than ever. A worker in a coal mine, a farming cane family and indigenous Australians who just want to develop their own land, are all having their interests threatened by a radical agenda that seeks to shut down Australia's wealth producing industries. More than ever, the Nationals party must be strong in defence of our people's livelihoods and the future opportunities for their children.

I must also take this opportunity to disclose an interest that has come to my attention in the past week. I currently have a supporters membership with the Townsville Cowboys which entitles me to membership of the Cowboys Leagues Club.  This is a membership I have not previously declared.

In November 2019, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) provided notice of an Investment Decision to the Cowboys Rugby League Football Limited.  Investment Decisions are a matter for the independent NAIF Board. My membership of the Leagues Club provides no interest in the management of the Football Club.  As Minister for Northern Australia, the NAIF Act provides only limited criteria by which this decision may be rejected, none of which were trigged by this decision.

I have sought further advice from the Prime Minister's Office on this matter. At this stage, I do not believe that a failure to declare this membership was a breach of the Statement of Ministerial Standards nor a direct conflict of interest. However, in the interests of full disclosure, I will take the earliest opportunity to update the Senate regarding this membership.

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