Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack has been confirmed as the new deputy prime minister after winning the Nationals leadership.
The Riverina MP has replaced Barnaby Joyce who quit after weeks of controversy surrounding his extra-marital affair with a former staffer who is now pregnant.
Mr McCormack, 53, was confirmed as Nationals leader at a partyroom meeting on Monday morning in Canberra having been challenged by George Christensen.
RIVERINA Nationals MP Michael McCormack has firmed-up as the only contender to replace Barnaby Joyce as the party’s next leader.
Mr Joyce became Nationals leader in February 2016 after Warren Truss stepped down but has faced relentless media pressure and political scrutiny in recent weeks due to revelations of an affair with a former staff member and another allegation last week that led to his decision to step down from the job last Friday.
NSW Nationals MP David Gillespie withdrew his nomination yesterday ahead of today’s party room meeting gathering in Canberra, while the other fancied candidate David Littleproud – the new Agriculture and Water Resources Minister - issued a statement last night, leaving Mr McCormack as the only known candidate; avoiding any vote.
“I am truly humbled by the significant support I have received from colleagues and others over the past few days,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Now is not the time for internal contests.
“Now is the time for all individuals to be team players.
“Now is the time to think about stability and the good of the party.
“I will not be contesting the leadership.
“It is time for The Nationals to get behind Michael McCormack as Leader and focus on delivering for regional Australia together.”
Mr Joyce entered the party room meeting flanked by deputy-leader Bridget McKenzie and NSW Nationals Senator John “Wacka” Williams.
Party sources have said they hope there will be a ‘smooth’ leadership transition and minimal disruption to the ministry portfolio allocations, with Mr McCormack likely to take over Mr Joyce’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister role and Victorian MP Darren Chester potentially elevated to Mr McCormack’s Veteran Affairs ministry position, or possibly Keith Pitt or Mark Coulton.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has urged the Prime Minister to release the Coalition agreement that sets out the terms of governing between the Liberals and Nationals; including ministerial allocations like water policy being within agriculture.
Mr Fitzgibbon said Malcolm Turnbull had been spending taxpayers’ money to engage highly paid lawyers to keep the Coalition agreement a secret, in urging greater transparency.
“Nothing could be more fundamental to our democracy than the right of Australians to know what Malcolm Turnbull said he would or wouldn’t do to become Prime Minister,” he said.
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