NATIONALS PARTY LEADERSHIP SPILL
Michael McCormack has repelled a leadership challenge from Barnaby Joyce who insists he won't have another crack at bringing down the deputy prime minister.
Mr McCormack beat Mr Joyce in Canberra on Tuesday morning, foiling the outspoken backbencher's plan to seize his old job back.
"I want to thank my colleagues for again placing their faith in me," Mr McCormack told reporters after the meeting.
Mr Joyce said the leadership ballot had resolved the issue.
"That process has been followed and the issue is finalised," he said in a statement.
He promised to strive for the re-election of a Morrison-McCormack government.
"Now my attentions go back to where they were before this week, the New England (region), drought, fires and now the threat of coronavirus," the failed leadership candidate said.
Nationals chief whip Damian Drum vowed to never reveal the final tally.
Addressing suggestions he is mortally wounded as Nationals leader, Mr McCormack said he didn't expect Mr Joyce to challenge again.
"I shook hands with Barnaby. We will move on. We will move on and work hard together," he said.
Queensland frontbencher David Littleproud was elected deputy Nationals leader, replacing Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie after she quit over the sports rorts scandal.
Mr Littleproud, who defeated backbench MPs David Gillespie and Keith Pitt, said it was time to get back to work.
"The shenanigans are over," he said.
"It's time to get back to looking after those people that are facing drought, that have faced up to the fires. It's time for us to focus on them, not us."
Mr Joyce's supporters falsely inflated his numbers through unsourced media reports, and Mr McCormack took aim at journalists for fuelling leadership speculation.
"There's been media speculation heightened only by stories that were, quite frankly, untrue," he said.
"If they're not prepared to put their name to it, I don't understand why it actually makes the paper."
Mr McCormack now has to decide on a ministerial reshuffle after Resources Minister Matt Canavan quit to support Mr Joyce.
In a bizarre twist, Senator McKenzie was re-elected the party's leader in the upper house two days after quitting cabinet for breaking ministerial rules.
She resigned for not declaring gun club memberships of organisations which won grants through a controversial scheme she administered.
Senator Canavan retained his role as deputy senate leader despite moving against Mr McCormack.
The Rockhampton-based senator is also facing conflict-of-interest questions after revealing he was a member of North Queensland's NRL club which received a government loan.
The upheaval leaves the Nationals without a minister in the upper house.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tried not to buy into the unrest, claiming he could work with either Nationals leadership contender.
"The coalition will always be strong, and the leaders of the parties have always worked closely together for the good of the country," he told reporters.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese described the Nationals infighting as "totally self-indulgent".
"If Barnaby Joyce is the answer, what the hell is the question?"