Cathy Adams

Malcolm Turnbull to shuffle as Nats prepare demands

THE final election outcome in the Senate may not be determined until August, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull battles it out with Deputy Barnaby Joyce to negotiate the Coalition agreement this week.

Nationals MPs from around the country meet in Canberra Tuesday after Mr Turnbull returned there to plan a ministerial reshuffle.

The Nationals are vying for potentially four spots in Cabinet after the Liberals' relatively poorer vote in the election changed the junior Coalition partner's quota for the coveted roles.

It is understood a list of Nationals' demands on the Liberals has included a greater role for the party on communications and small business issues - both issues expected to attract attention with a more regionally-focused senate.

Among those considered to be up for promotion in the Nationals were Queenslanders Matt Canavan and Keith Pitt, who both already hold junior ministries, and Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie.

Plus the president of the Rural Doctors' Association Dr Ewen McPhee on Monday had some timely praise yesterday for Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash's performance in the portfolio, saying she had "really raised the profile of rural health issues".

Mr Turnbull arrived in Canberra on Monday to begin talks about his new Cabinet, with two, possibly three former ministers voted out at the election, but did not speak to the media.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten has called for Mr Turnbull to publicly release the new Coalition agreement once it was struck; saying people "have a right to know what's going on".

The last deal struck between Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce saw environmental water policies moved to Mr Joyce's portfolio of agriculture and Mr Turnbull was forced to back a marriage equality plebiscite by the more socially conservative Nationals.

The Coalition has a narrow majority in the House of Representatives but the Australian Electoral Commission has said the Senate vote count could take until early August.


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