McCormack's low key success makes his leadership safe: McKenzie

McCormack's low key success makes his leadership safe: McKenzie


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Deputy Nats Leader Bridget McKenzie.Photo Alex Ellinghausen.

Deputy Nats Leader Bridget McKenzie.Photo Alex Ellinghausen.

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Nationals Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie backs Michael McCormack and welcomes new women to party's parliamentary ranks

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The Nationals federal election campaign skirted the spotlight and delivered the shock Coalition victory that has secured Nationals Leader Michael McCormack's career.

That's according to Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie , who is welcoming a boost to the Nats female ranks in the party's new look parliamentary team.

"Michael McCormack has done a fabulous job, he's travelled 60,000 kilometres and visited 25 electorates, getting out on the ground and connecting with communities," said Ms McKenzie, who is Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation.

Mr McCormack has fended off speculation that former Nats Leader Barnaby Joyce would mount a comeback, backed by his proponents who favour a more combative style of politicking.

"It's not about the hoopla and the rah-rah. Regional people care about who's going to deliver and support prosperous communities and Michael has been fundamental in delivering that," Ms McKenzie said.

The Nats increased their female representation in the Senate, where they will have four members overall - down from six Senators in the previous parliament.

"There was a lot of talk before the election about rural women from the left, and independents, mounting their push. But the reality is it's the Nats putting strong regional women into office," Ms McKenzie said.

Perin Davey from NSW replaces John Williams, and Susan McDonald from Queensland takes Barry O'Sullivan's place. With Michelle Landry retaining her QLD seat of Capricornia, and Anne Webster replacing Andrew Broad in Mallee, Victoria, the Nats partyroom of 20 features five women.

Several regional independents were a viable threat to several Coalition seats, but suspicions of their Labor leanings saw voters stick with the Nats, Ms McKenzie said.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at the 2019 Coalition Launch. Photo Dominic Lorrimer.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at the 2019 Coalition Launch. Photo Dominic Lorrimer.

"Regional Australia thought of a protest vote, then at the end of the last parliamentary sitting session the independents showed they can be out of step with the community values, and I don't think people wanted to risk it.

"The last time regional independents came to parliament they backed Labor."

In the recent NSW election the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party won three safe Nationals seats, sparking predictions that the federal Coalition would suffer a similar fate.

Ms McKenzie blamed the state result result on a lack of effort among state candidates.

RELATED READING: McCormack hails Nats 'new model' for stunning election win

"In the state result the Nats MPs that were hard working members were returned with an increased majority. Those that weren't working as hard as they could, or should, weren't," Ms McKenzie said.

Ms McKenzie cited the example of the Nats candidate for the NSW state seat of Murray Austin Evans, who ceded the previously safe seat to Shooters candidate Helen Dalton.

In the lead up to the election, Mr Evans told local health advocates he could win the election without voters in Deniliquin, one of the secondary towns in the electorate outside of Griffith.

"We saw what Austin said about Deniliquin and it goes to show you can't take anything for granted," Ms McKenzie said.

Ms McKenzie said regional economic development would be a priority for the returned Morrison Government.

"We need to make sure our environmental regulations are safe swift, so we can see the new mines built, and the water infrastructure," she said.

"We'll ensure the trade protocols s are working for farmers, small business and food manufacturers."

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