Barnaby Joyce will return as Nationals leader, deputy prime minister

·2-min read

Barnaby Joyce will return as the deputy prime minister after defeating Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership spill.

Mr Joyce secured a majority in the 21-member party room at a meeting in Canberra on Monday after long-time supporter Matt Canavan moved a spill motion.

Nationals whip Damian Drum confirmed the outcome of the leadership but did not reveal the vote tally.

Nationals member for New England Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, December 2, 2020.
Barnaby Joyce will return as the Nationals leader. Source: AAP

"He has to go through a process now to be sworn in, to have all the conversations, to talk to the prime minister, and effectively get on with the job of representing our people," he told reporters at Parliament House.

Asked what the decision said about the junior coalition partner, Mr Drum said: "The most democratic party in Australia."

Mr McCormack was asked during a brief press conference after the meeting what he told Nationals colleagues.

"I said thank you for the great privilege of serving you," he told reporters.

Mr Joyce will address the media on Monday afternoon.

The change in Nationals leadership could have major implications for the Morrison government with the junior coalition partner set for a ministerial reshuffle.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has retained his role as Nationals deputy leader.

Joyce finally prevails in second leadership challenge

Mr Joyce failed to topple Mr McCormack at his last attempt in February last year, but has prevailed at his second crack.

He lost his job in 2018 after a major scandal stemming from his extra-marital affair with a staffer who has now given birth to the couple's two children.

Earlier, Mr McCormack vowed not to stand aside.

"If I survive then the people who actually run against me, they should think long and hard about their futures," he told reporters in Canberra.

"They should think long and hard about the role they need to play in government. They should stop being so destabilising."

Walking into the meeting, the deputy prime minister said he was feeling positive.

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