JUST hours after being announced as a new cabinet minister, the Nationals’ Bendigo-based Senator Bridget McKenzie stated her party’s united goal: to stop Bill Shorten becoming prime minister.
In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday night, Ms McKenzie – the Nationals’ new deputy leader – was asked about infighting over the decision to dump Victorian Senator Darren Chester from the cabinet.
She said the party’s MPs and senators had at least one common goal.
“If I asked every single one of my senators and members what they want to be doing, and working on, it’s not fighting each other – it’s making sure Bill Shorten doesn’t win the next election,” Ms McKenzie said.
Ms McKenzie was named as the country’s new minister for rural health, regional communications and sport on Tuesday taking on the ministerial responsibilities of Fiona Nash, sacked during the dual-citizenship scandal.
A spokesperson for her office said she would put out a statement on Wednesday addressing her new appointment, but no statement was released.
She was on Sky News on Tuesday night however, where she spoke about the fallout of the sacking of Mr Chester and the removal of Queensland MP Keith Pitt from cabinet.
Ms McKenzie said the party needed to move forward.
“In terms of it leading to civil war, I’ve spoken to Darren, I’ve spoken to Keith today, I’ve spoken to a lot of my colleagues. I’ve also heard Darren’s public commentary,” she said.
“I loved his quote around him being relentlessly positive, and optimistic around regional Australia and the role he can play in its growth and development.
“At the end of the day, the decision’s made. We’ve got to respect the decision, and get on with it.”
Her ascension to cabinet was welcomed by the Victorian Nationals.
Leader Peter Walsh said Ms McKenzie was a “fierce advocate” for regional Victorian communities.
“Bridget has proven to be a fierce advocate for our regional Victorian communities in her time in the Senate and I have no doubt she will bring this determination to the federal cabinet table,” he said.
“I also wish to congratulate Member for Murray Damian Drum on his appointment as assistant minister to the deputy prime minister, reinforcing Victoria’s strong ties with the federal leadership team.”
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia also welcomed Ms McKenzie’s appointment to cabinet.
RDAA president Adam Coltzau said she was a worthy appointee as minister for rural health.
“She has engaged actively with RDAA and its rural doctor members at numerous meetings and events we have organised over many years,” he said.