RICHMOND candidate Matthew Fraser was singled out at the Nationals state conference at Twin Towns on Friday as the face of the party, but Johnny Depp's dogs as well as controversial remarks on asylum seekers stole the show.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop on Thursday rejected Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce's comments linking a 2011 decision to suspend live cattle exports to an increase in asylum seeker boats.

But, after opening his party's state conference, Mr Joyce told the media he stood by his comments, saying he was making a point of "correlation" and not "causation" between live export bans and boat people.

"You need the strongest working relationship with your neighbours and you don't get it by banning the supply of an essential part of protein, for the dietary requirement of the people of Jakarta," Mr Joyce said.

"That was an extremely foolish thing for our nation to do."

Mr Joyce said it was "none of his business" that Amber Heard had filed divorce papers against actor Johnny Depp, following his stoush with the Hollywood couple after they brought their dogs Pistol and Boo into Australia illegally.

"People break the law, with what happened with their so called tea cup dogs ... if they had rabies we'd be having a totally different press conference.

 

Johnny Depp and wife Amber Heard arrive at the Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast, Monday, April 18, 2016.
Johnny Depp and wife Amber Heard arrive at the Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast, Monday, April 18, 2016. DAVE HUNT

"The reality of Ms Heard and Mr Depp is this... if you bring rabies in you completely change the way people recreate in Australia," he said.

He said he was "confident but not cocky" he could win the seat of New England and told the conference he was fascinated by Richmond candidate Mr Fraser's story, including his first job mowing lawns aged 10 and his purchase of two Hungry Jacks franchises.

"He went out and had a go, by his own intuition. By the sweat of his own brow, to progress through the economic and social stratification of life, to find (his) highest level of freedom," Mr Joyce said. "Matthew Fraser represents what the National Party believe in."

 


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