Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has launched into the independent candidates that challenged Liberal MPs across the nation, labelling them “selfish and self-indulgent”.
The Nationals Leader’s comments came among a string of other claims just minutes into the vote count last night, where he also said the Labor Party would fail to represent regional people and that there had been a swing towards the Nationals in Indigenous communities.
Mr Joyce, who has been deputy Prime Minister since last year, unleashed on the way candidates — dubbed the “teal independents” — had campaigned against the Liberal Party this election, which he said could make the nation a laughing stock.
“I’m so angry with this, because it’s self-indulgent and selfish,” he said.
“If you believe independents are the way to go, let’s have 1151 of them, let’s have total chaos… in the parliament. We know we would be a laughing stock.
“It’s almost a sense of… we have a right to go in the middle whichever way we want, whenever we like. That is so selfish.”
Mr Joyce said there was scope for Nationals and Liberal members to speak their minds without having to run as independents, which he claimed was not the case for Labor and Greens.
“They’re like green peas in a pod. I can’t believe they all think the same, but they all talk the same,” he said.
“That’s ridiculous, because their liberty and freedom to express their personal views have basically expunged.”
Mr Joyce predicted earlier in the evening pollsters had got it wrong and tipped a victory for the Coalition, basing his view on a divide between city and country areas that had sparked frustration towards the Labor Party.
The deputy prime minister said Labor could not win an election without winning regional votes and reiterated long-held claims throughout his campaign the party does not represent regional people.
“If they don’t win regional votes if they don’t win regional seats they can’t win an election, it’s not possible,” Mr Joyce said.
“To be relevant to regional people, they have to be able to walk out of their inner suburban domain, and start espousing views that are relevant to regional people.
“I think there were two different elections on here, the regional Australia election and urban Australia election.
“In regional Australia there is a sense of anger verging on disconnect.”
Mr Joyce also said last night there was a changing trend in favour of the Nationals in Indigenous communities, which he claimed had previously been subjected to intimidation.
“We’ve had a belief in the past… that there’s been a bit of standover tactics in some of those bush booths of how people should vote,” he said.
“(But) with the Indigenous vote, we haven’t got the high participation rate we had in the past.”
Mr Joyce was first appointed deputy prime minister for a two-year stint in 2016, before being reinstated last year and was Nationals leader during the same time.