Barnaby Joyce has declared he's not going anywhere before the next election, and would accept a frontbench position from the man who deposed him. The former deputy prime minister on Tuesday described losing the leadership as "kind of a weight off my shoulders", insisting he was always looking to step away from the role during this term of government. Speaking for the first time since Monday's leadership spill, Mr Joyce also backed David Littleproud's calls to shift to nuclear energy. "Let's be brave enough and start saying things like nuclear energy. Otherwise, you're going to come up with this implausible position where you say 'I want to achieve this but I really don't have the technology to do it'," he said. "I'd love to see the Labor Party come on board with us and not turn it into some sort of ridiculous [sound]bite of: 'You're going to put a nuclear reactor in someone's backyard', which just divides the place up." Within hours of becoming Nationals leader, Mr Littleproud declared it was time for Australia to hold a "mature" conversation on nuclear energy - the subject of a bipartisan moratorium. Mr Joyce led the junior Coalition party as it struck a deal to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and claimed the pay-off was "a little bit more" than the $21 billion infrastructure outlay outlined in the March budget. But he poured cold water on the prospect of backing the government's midterm 43 per cent target, warning regional Australians would be "out of a job". Senator Matt Canavan, one of of his key backers, also intervened during the election campaign to declare net zero was "dead". Mr Joyce would not echo those comments on Tuesday, though stressed Mr Canavan had a "right to speak". Mr Joyce also ruled out supporting an internal conversation on phasing out coal, saying Australians needed to be aware of where their wealth comes from. "If you start saying we're going to take away our second biggest export, then you've got to be honest about it and say what services you're going to give up as well, because the money is no longer there," he said. "NDIS, or maybe it's pensions, or maybe it's schools, or maybe it's health." The Liberal Party was facing a period of soul searching, after its moderate wing was severely depleted by a number of climate-focused independents seizing blue-ribbon inner-city seats. READ MORE: But Mr Joyce dismissed a group of vanquished Liberals who claimed he, along with Nationals hardliners, damaged their chances in moderate electorates. "Don't start looking around for somebody else to blame, because the first thing is you're not really facing up to your own dilemma," he said. "What seats do they want us to give up in the National Party so that it makes them happier? Do I go up to central Queensland and say: 'Sorry guys, for the sake of the Liberal Party, I'm gonna let a couple of these seats go'." Monday's leadership change has raised questions over whether Mr Joyce, who first entered parliament in 2004, will retire from politics. But he revealed he would accept a frontbench position from Mr Littleproud, and intended to remain in politics until the next election. And after the Nationals retained all their seats, he suggested the junior partner would be entitled to a higher proportion of frontbench roles, flagging the prospect of a Coalition trade spokesman from the Nationals. "Obviously I'd accept one if it was offered to me, and I'm absolutely committed to serving the people of New England," he said.