Turnbull has no power to pick new deputy
ON MONDAY morning, a political conclave of 21 privileged MPs will tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who his new deputy is.
And if Mr Turnbull doesn't like the choice, there's nothing he can do about it - short of risking the entire government.
The 21 are National Party MPs who will choose a new party leader when Barnaby Joyce steps down. That new leader will then tell Mr Turnbull who he or she wants in Cabinet.
Again, the Prime Minister will have to accept the names.
This is the longstanding process which underpins the Liberal National Coalition, and it is backed by a covenant which neither side wants made public.
The deal gives the Nationals a disproportionate influence on the government. They make up around 9 per cent of MPs but have a lot of weight to throw around.
And on occasion, as with Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull, the leader and deputy don't always get on.
Labor leader Bill Shorten today highlighted the secret Coalition deal between the Liberals and the Nationals which gives the Nationals that extraordinary power.
Mr Shorten said the Prime Minister had to make changes to prevent a repeat of the Barnaby Joyce scandal, including taking the right to select his own deputy.
"The National Party cannot be allowed by virtue of a secret Coalition agreement to 100 per cent decide who the Deputy Prime Minister is," he told reporters.
"Australians deserve better. The secret Coalition agreement, dealing out positions in the Turnbull government, must be made public.
"We can never see a repeat of this damaging scandal."