Barnaby Joyce refuses to answer questions after failed leadership challenge against Michael McCormack | Update | The Northern Daily Leader


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New England MP Barnaby Joyce won’t be questioned on his failed leadership coup but has vowed to turn his attention back to his electorate and the drought. On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Joyce’s office refused requests by the Leader to talk to the local MP about the leadership chaos that eclipsed the first day of federal parliament for the year. My Joyce lost Tuesday morning’s leadership tilt against Michael McCormack. The numbers aren’t revealed in a Nationals’ ballot, but both camps are claiming different figures. In a media statement in the wake of the ballot, Mr Joyce congratulated Mr McCormack on winning the leadership ballot, and “by so doing, re-endorsement of his position as Leader of the Nationals Party”. READ ALSO: Mr Joyce then went on to explain his reasons for the fresh tilt at the leadership. “It is appropriate that if an issue needs resolving as to contentions held, there is a procedure to resolve it as is noted in our Parliamentary system,” Mr Joyce said. “That process has been followed and the issue is finalised. “This was made as brief as possible prior to the first sitting of Parliament for the year.” Mr Joyce resigned as National Party leader two years ago. “I support the vote of the room and will strive for the re-election of a Morrison/McCormack government as this is definitely the better outcome for Australia and especially of regional people,” Mr Joyce said. “Now my first attentions go back to where they were before this week, the New England, drought, fires and now the threat of Coronavirus.” The attempted coup was sparked by the resignation of party deputy leader Bridget McKenzie over the sports grants affair, with disgruntled parliamentarians taking the opportunity to move against Mr McCormack. Mr Joyce makes no secret of his ambition to return to the leadership after he was force to resign two years ago under pressure over an affair with his staffer – and has said before if the position becomes vacant he will stand. But Mr McCormack said it was time to draw a line in the sand. He said he had been endorsed as leader when Mr Joyce resigned two years ago, again after the 2018 election and again on Tuesday. “That’s three times in less than three two years,” he said. “I think that’s enough to warrant me leading the party going forward,” he said. He had shook Mr Joyce’s hand, would continue to work with him and did not expect him to challenge again, he said. “I’ve shook hands with Barnaby, we’re going to move on and work together, with the party, together for regional Australia,” Mr McCormack said. Water Minister David Littleproud was elected as the party’s deputy leader. Warialda-based Parkes MP Mark Coulton said he was pleased with the results of Tuesday’s leadership spill. “I’m a big supporter of Michael, and David will do a good job as a replacement for Bridget McKenzie,” he said. “It has been an unfortunate distraction at the start of the year, but we have been reassured by all members of the party room that they are united and focused.” The 21-member Nationals party room met from 9am till 9.40am, with Mr McCormack and Mr Joyce each leaving the room while the other spoke. The parliamentarians were told to leave their phones at the door. As for Matt Canavan, who gave sudden wind to Mr Joyce’s sails on Monday night when he resigned from his ministerial role to back him, Mr McCormack signalled he would remain on the backbench. “He has resigned his commission as resources minister. I wish him all the best,” Mr McCormack said. Michael McCormack has survived a nasty leadership challenge from Barnaby Joyce, however the brawl revealed a deep divide within the party. Mr Joyce fell just short of securing the 11 votes needed to oust Mr McCormack, who may face more questions about his leadership from within his party – however, Mr McCormack insists the party is now united. Water Minister David Littleproud was elected as the party’s deputy leader. Mr McCormack said he “looked forward” to continuing to work with Mr Joyce. “I’ve shook hands with Barnaby, we’re going to move on and work together, with the party, together for regional Australia,” Mr McCormack said. “I don’t expect him to challenge again. I was endorsed as the leader three times in two years. I think that’s enough to warrant me leading the party.” Mr Littleproud said with the leadership ballot over, it was time to focus outwards on regional Australia, rather than inwards on the party. “The shenanigans are over,” Mr Littleproud said. “This is about hope, this is about vision for people of regional Australia. “The story of regional Australia is ‘just add rain’, and it will come.” There will be a cabinet reshuffle to follow, with a number of portfolios to change hands, including agriculture.

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