Member for Riverina Michael McCormack continues to remain tight-lipped on whether he will throw his hat in the ring to be Deputy Prime Minister when Warren Truss retires.
Mr Truss is widely tipped to retire in the next couple of months and step down as Nationals leader, with his current deputy Barnaby Joyce considered to be the most likely MP to take over in his role.
Mr McCormack did not rule in or out his prospects of also contesting the leadership when he spoke to the Advertiser on Thursday.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” he said.
He did not deny he harboured ambitions to one day lead the party – and thus become Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition government – though he did not put a timeline on when he wanted to achieve that.
“I think every politician is ambitious but first and foremost, I always consider the electorate,” Mr McCormack said.
“The most important people are the ones who voted for me and even the ones who didn’t vote for me (in the electorate).”
When asked if he would support Mr Joyce, the member for New England and presently the Agriculture Minister, becoming leader, Mr McCormack remained similarly tight-lipped.
“I’ve only got one vote, I’ve only got one opinion and I’m one of 21 (Nationals MPs),” he said.
“That will be up to our party room to decide. Barnaby has obviously flagged his intentions but at the moment Warren is the leader and Barnaby is the deputy leader.”
On Thursday, Mr Joyce declared he would seek the leadership when Mr Truss steps down, telling Fairfax Media: "I've supported Warren publicly and privately and if he steps down I will throw my hat in the ring."
Though leadership speculation among the party has ramped up publicly this week, Mr McCormack said it was a topic that had not been widely discussed in the party room.
“The talk in the party room prior to Christmas was more about things we could do for regional Australia,” he said.
“Leadership did not even come up in the party room. It might have come up in a few private conversations because of a story here and a story there.”
Last month, Charles Sturt University politics lecturer Troy Whitford told the Advertiser Mr McCormack was considered to be on the “shortlist” for the role.