AIMING HIGH: Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.
AIMING HIGH: Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker. Trevor Veale

Dark horse Hartsuyker makes his move

FEDERAL MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has emerged from the shadows as a willing contender for the Nationals Party leadership when Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss makes his exit.

Speculation has been mounting for weeks that Mr Truss is preparing to end his tenure before the next election, and while Barnaby Joyce has already been touted as a likely successor, he might have some competition in Mr Hartsuyker.

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has been named as another possible contender.

"The bottom line is that Mr Truss has earned the right to announce his intentions at any time of his choosing so any speculation at this time is totally hypothetical, but if and when the time comes I will certainly be expressing an interest to step up in some capacity," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"It would be a great honour if I was to get the support of my colleagues to contribute in a greater way."

In September last year the Coffs Harbour-based MP was promoted to Minister for Vocational Education and Skills in the Turnbull Ministry.

"I've been in parliament now for 14 years, and I think it's important that we have a leadership team of depth and experience so we can continue to deliver in the future," he said.

"It's up the National Party who they choose to lead the team, but I would bring a range of skills that I value in our leadership team going forward in whatever capacity my colleagues think appropriate.

"I certainly think many of the people I represent could see the benefit of having a local member as part of National Party leadership team if and when the time comes. It's something I think could assist the North Coast in my capacity to deliver for the region."

By the time a decision is made, it is highly likely Mr Hartsuyker will no longer represent the Clarence Valley, with the Federal Electorate boundaries of Page and Cowper set to move in coming weeks.

The Cowper MP said he had enjoyed representing parts of the Valley, but thought the new boundaries made "a lot of sense."

"With the redistribution there have been many illiogical decisions but I think for Clarence Valley it has a lot of benefit," he said.

"I think they will have a strong voice in (Kevin) Hogan, who is proving to be a great parliamentarian."



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