Barnaby Joyce has apologised to his constituents in New England and pledged to continue to serve them after his election to the Federal Parliament was found invalid by the High Court of Australia on Friday.
The now former Deputy Prime Minister told media that he respects the verdict that deemed him ineligible to serve the Coalition and now faces a by-election in his northern New South Wales electorate of New England, which is expected to occur around December 2.
"The first thing I want to say is that I want to thank the people of New England for the support I have been receiving, overwhelming support," he said.
"I would like to apologise for the inconvenience that will happen by reason of having a by-election, which we will go to almost immediately.
"I will be making sure that now we offer the people of New England the best service and continue on with jobs such as the relocation of the APVMA (the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority), Scone Bypass, the 37 new upgraded mobile phone towers in the area, the bridges through newer programs, whether it is the Carrara or Middlebrook Bridge."
Despite his disappointment over the ruling, he also tried to keep part of his address to the media light-hearted -- even joking about the possibility of swapping places with Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who was found eligible to sit in Parliament but has already flagged his intention to quit Federal politics and run in the South Australian state election next March.
"Nick, he got back but he still wants to go so I don't know how you deal with that. Nick, do you want to swap mate?" he said.
Joyce's citizenship was thrown into doubt in August when it was revealed that he is a New Zealand citizen by reason of descent. His father was born in New Zealand and, despite being born in Australia and having never applied for NZ citizenship, the country claimed him as a citizen -- ultimately leading to the High Court's ruling on Friday.
While the ruling initially put the Turnbull government's slim majority in the Lower House at risk, Independent MP Cathy McGowan promised the Coalition she would support it on supply and confidence.
And as for Joyce and his role -- he said he's still committed to getting back to work in the hopes of winning the upcoming by-election, with Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion filling his place as interim leader of the National Party and Deputy PM.
"It is a tough game, politics. You dedicate so much of your time to it and you take the hits and the sacrifices. We all buy the ticket, we know the risks," he said.
"Now I am going to make sure that I don't cry in my beer, I will get back at work and work hard for the people in my electorate, the electorate of New England, and make sure I do the best job for my nation."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also addressed Joyce's ineligibility by jumping to his defence for the upcoming vote, saying he is the best suited person to serve "Australians living in regional, remote and rural areas".
"Barnaby Joyce is the best person, as we've seen already on the television complete with his hat, the best person to deliver for New England and for Australians living in regional, remote and rural areas," he said.
"He has a passion for representation and, while I know that Barnaby will be disappointed with the outcome of the court case, it's as though he's been let out of the stalls and he's ready and rearing to go. His enthusiasm is absolutely infectious."
Joyce was first elected as the Member for the New England electorate back in 2013 and was re-elected at the 2016 election after winning more than 52 percent of the ballot.Suggest a correction