Ken O'Dowd backs down from 'light hearted' deputy PM remark
KEN O'Dowd has distanced himself from his "light hearted" suggestion that he could replace Barnaby Joyce as deputy Prime Minister.
Reaffirming his loyalty to the embattled member for New England - whose private life has become a scandal in the past three days - Mr O'Dowd backed down from comments he made about raising his hand to nominate for the position, should Mr Joyce be forced out.
Mr Joyce's political future is under fire after it was revealed his former staffer, Vikki Campion is pregnant with his baby.
Today he denied breaching ministerial rules, declaring Ms Campion was not his partner when she worked in his office or Senator Matthew Canavan's.
Mr O'Dowd said in a radio interview with 4CC this morning if Mr Joyce did step down, there would be many National Party members who would nominate for the position.
"I am not predicting anything is going to happen today, but if it does there is going to be a lot of guys with their hands up, and I might be one of those," Mr O'Dowd said.
His comments made national news after being published on The Observer website, but this afternoon Mr O'Dowd said he would not put his name forward even if the position was available.
"The interview was a light-hearted weekly chat with a radio host I've known for many years," Mr O'Dowd said.
"There is no vacancy and I will not be putting my name forward if there was."
Mr O'Dowd commended Mr Joyce's work as the National Party leader for the past two years.
"As leader, Mr Joyce has been instrumental in delivering significant achievements for regional and rural Australia," he said.
"Leadership of the Nationals is a role of significant importance and Mr Joyce has always fought for a better go for regional and rural Australians and he's always been a big supporter of me and the electorate of Flynn and likewise."