THE Australia Post watch scandal has prompted fresh calls for the federal government to consider selling off assets to pay back it's COVID-19 debt.
The country's postal service came under fire, after four senior employees were rewarded with $3000 watches by the organisation.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said while it would be an unpopular view, the time was right to consider selling off federal government assets.
"Generally, I realise in the public's view they don't want to sell any government asset, but the reailty is with the debt we have got, a government in the future is going to be forced to sell an asset," Mr Joyce told the Leader.
"There is no capacity to back the debt out of merely just profits, it's going to require the sale of an asset.
"When I say that it is very unpopular, but unfortunately it is the truth, and so you have to look at the government assets like the NBN, Australia Post are two that come to mind.
"If it's not our government having this conversation, it will be a future government because people will want their money back."
The watch scandal sparked a federal government investigation and forced Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate to stand down until the investigation was complete.
Mr Joyce said country people have ever right to be upset with the actions of Australia Post.
"They acted like it was a private company," he said.
"If it was a private company I don't think anyone would really care, but because the shareholders of this company are the tax payers they care.
"I suppose it poses the question if they are acting like a private company, does the government keep some of the money to pay the debt back and make it a private company."
Australia Post's chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo said in a statement that the board would co-operate with the federal government's investigation.
"We remain committed to delivering for our important stakeholders - our people, our Post Office partners, our customers and the community," Mr Bartolomeo said.
"Group CEO & Managing Director Christine Holgate will stand aside during the investigation. During this time, Rodney Boys, Chief Financial Officer will be acting in the role."