It’s lonely at the top ... Senator Mathias Cormann will be Acting Prime Minister while Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is on personal leave. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Nationals Minister cagey on leadership talk
It’s lonely at the top ... Senator Mathias Cormann will be Acting Prime Minister while Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is on personal leave. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Nationals Minister cagey on leadership talk

Who’s left in the House?

CRISIS? What crisis?

Australia might be confronting enormous instability within the Coalition Government but that's not stopping political leaders taking off for other parts.

From tomorrow the leader and deputy leader of the Liberal Party and the leader and deputy leader of the National Party will be either overseas or on leave.

The Acting Prime Minister will be Government leader in the Senate Mathias Cormann, who will do a solid job as fill-in head of government but is actually three rungs down the hierarchy.

Normal practice would see National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in the role.

However, Mr Joyce is on personal leave as he battles to keep his job following uproar over his affair with a staff member who is now pregnant to him.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is on personal leave. Picture: Gary Ramage
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is on personal leave. Picture: Gary Ramage

The Nationals are close to leaderless here as Mr Joyce's party deputy, Rural Health and Sport Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie, has been in Korea watching the Winter Olympics.

Next on the Acting Prime Minister ladders would have been Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

However, Ms Bishop is on visits to the UK, Hungary and Slovenia until February 23.

So tomorrow, when Malcolm Turnbull takes off for a visit to the US with premiers and business leaders (with Mr Turnbull's high point being a chat with President Donald Trump), Mr Cormann will be running the place, just the fourth Upper House member to get the job.

Attention will be paid to how the absence of the Government top ranks is used by prominent ministers.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will address the National Press Club tomorrow, and Treasurer Scott Morrison is expected to continue campaigning for big corporate tax cuts.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is overseas until February 23. Picture: AFP/Yasser Al-Zayyat
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is overseas until February 23. Picture: AFP/Yasser Al-Zayyat


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