Michael McCormack has kicked off his election campaign with a pitch to regional Australia.
"I don't intend to lose and I don't intend for The Nationals not to be in government," the Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Riverina told a press conference called after Prime Minster Scott Morrison announced a May 18 federal election.
Mr McCormack said voters had a "clear choice" about who they wanted to govern them.
He spoke about border protection, infrastructure spending and the announcement last week by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg that the Budget was expected to return to surplus.
He said the government had delivered "right across the regions".
Mr McCormack said the government had made $70 million available to address issues raised by a new report into the controversial Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
"I will certainly be working hard to ensure all regional Australians know the National Party is the party for them, is the party of choice, is the party for lower taxes, is the party of choice for infrastructure across the regions and I will be putting that to voters, seat by seat," he said.
"We will be standing by our proud record of delivery. We've delivered, we've achieved and we will continue to do that in government in conjunction with the Liberals."
Mr McCormack batted away any suggestion of concern about an independent candidate running in Riverina, against him.
"If people want to put their names on a ballot paper, then good luck to them. I am proud of what I have achieved over the last eight or so years. I'm energised, I'm feeling good. I'm looking forward to the next 39 or 40 days and I will be getting out and about in the Riverina, but I will also be getting out in regional Australia because as The Nationals leader, it is important I am seen right around the nation, as I already have been this week," he said.
The Nationals leader was also buoyant about the Coalition's chances of retaining government, despite opinion polls consistently showing Labor ahead.
"There is only one opinion poll that matters and that's the one that's going to be held on May 18. If you believed in opinion polls, Will Hodgman wouldn't be Premier of Tasmania and Steven Marshall wouldn't be Premier of South Australia. We certainly wouldn't have John Alexander continuing to represent Bennelong and he's doing an outstanding job there. You probably wouldn't have Donald Trump in the White House and the UK would still be in the European Union, so that's opinion polls for you," he said.
On climate change, Mr McCormack said the government had a "firm policy".
"That is to make sure we address everything we need to to reach all our international agreements and we are going to do that and we are delivering on that," he said.
"What we are not going to do is de-industrialise this nation. We're not going to make it unaffordable for businesses and certainly for households to turn on their power.
"We're not going to insist on buying electric cars, we're not going to insist on people doing something they don't want to do and that they can't afford. What we will do is that we will put in practical, pragmatic steps to make sure everybody can still live a good life and to have the air-conditioning on in summer, the heater on in winter and still afford their power bill and at the same time meeting our international agreements."