Why it is now or never for Joyce to reclaim the leadership
Barnaby Joyce failed early last year to take down Michael McCormack as Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister but his supporters always called it a narrow loss. The cold logic of a challenge this week is in the timing. First, this is the last week of Parliament before the winter break, so the leadership can be settled well in advance of the next election.Second, Joyce cannot wait until after that election. One of his allies, Queenslander George Christensen, intends to leave Parliament at the next poll. Another likely supporter, Ken O'Dowd, is also retiring.
© AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Nationals member for New England Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, May 24, 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack's grasp on his job is slipping, as a growing number of Nationals weigh up whether he should be replaced by former party leader Barnaby Joyce ahead of the next federal election.
The Nationals leader has vowed to fight off any potential challenge when the 21-member junior Coalition partner returns to Canberra on Monday for the final parliamentary sitting week before the winter break.
Barnaby Joyce must 'rebuild trust' after Nationals leadership spill, WA leader Mia Davies says
WA Nationals leader Mia Davies, who was one of the first to call for Barnaby Joyce's resignation in 2018, says the federal leadership change is disappointing and it's up to Mr Joyce to rebuild trust.Ms Davies, who is also the state Opposition Leader, was one of the first to call for Mr Joyce to resign when he was previously leader in 2018 following revelations of his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion.
Mr Joyce, Mr McCormack's predecessor, said on Sunday he would not call on a spill motion for the second time in 15 months but his supporters believe his personal numbers have grown since falling short in a secret leadership ballot in February 2020. Nationals' party protocols ensure the ballot result is not made public.
Passions stirred within the party last week over Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments regarding a net zero emissions target by 2050 while at the G7 in Britain. Several MPs said they were unhappy Mr Morrison appeared to be edging closer towards the target without consulting them.
Mr McCormack, who last week said his party would not embrace a 2050 target as a firm commitment ahead of November's climate summit in Glasgow, said on Sunday he had not been asked to step aside by any of his colleagues and not been informed by anyone that he had lost their confidence.
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"People aren't dissatisfied with what I'm doing as Deputy Prime Minister, they want my job. There's a big difference there," Mr McCormack said. "I don't think anyone could ever question my work ethic."
MPs aligned to both Mr McCormack and Mr Joyce agree the contest remains "very tight", however others remain adamant Mr Joyce could not win a head-to-head ballot against the Nationals leader. But they said they could not rule out disaffected colleagues moving a spill motion on Monday.
Just 11 votes are needed to succeed in the ballot, however MPs suggest that getting beyond seven votes for any candidate is difficult because of the highly factionalised and ambitious group. Several Nationals' MPs believe Mr McCormack is not up to the job but they cannot agree on who his successor should be.
NSW MP Andrew Gee, the Decentralisation and Regional Education Minister, is said to have been among the latest to defect from Mr McCormack's camp over a series of rejected policy proposals. He did not return calls on Sunday.
Joyce returns as deputy PM after spill win
Barnaby Joyce will be sworn in as deputy prime minister after triumphing over Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership showdown.Mr Joyce will be sworn in at Government House on Tuesday after defeating Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership spill on Monday.
There is growing speculation Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, a Queensland MP in just his second term of Parliament, would contest a ballot if Mr McCormack stood aside or the party room passed a no confidence motion in the leader.
Sources familiar with his position said Mr Littleproud had assured colleagues he remained loyal to Mr McCormack, but MPs aligned with Mr Joyce say Mr Littleproud's supporters were behind the latest unrest.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt also remains loyal to Mr McCormack and is understood to hold his own future leadership ambitions.
Assistant Northern Australia Minister Michelle Landry, who holds the regional seat of Capricornia, said she has not shifted her support away from Mr McCormack.
She said she was urging colleagues to leave the leadership "as it is".
"People don't want to see us talking about ourselves and getting rid of deputy prime ministers in the middle of a pandemic," she said.
Victorian MP Anne Webster also cautioned against a move on Mr McCormack, saying the voters wanted stability and politicians who were focused on them.
Some Joyce words
Good morning, early birds. Deputy prime minister-elect Barnaby Joyce will reportedly demand even more control over future climate change policies and more senior ministerial portfolios, and NSW Health has announced three new exposure sites overnight. It's the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.David Littleproud, Resources Minister Keith Pitt, and Bridget “Sports Rorts” McKenzie are reportedly set for cabinet positions, while Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester’s position is “in doubt”.
Asked who she preferred out of Mr McCormack and Mr Joyce, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she would not make "personal comments or observations" on her parliamentary colleagues nor "inject myself into the National Party's processes".
Senator Payne said also confirmed it was the "broad position" of the Australian government to achieve net zero emissions "as soon as possible and preferably by 2050″.
"It is a sensible position, and we need to make sure that we do it - not by penalising our businesses, our farmers and producers through taxes, but an absolute focus on low emissions' technology. And that's what we're doing," she told the ABC's Insiders program.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the "latest disloyal spill" within the Nationals was "all about just their internals and shows they are not focused on the needs of the nation".
Mr Albanese said not achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will be part of the deal for whoever leads the National Party.
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‘I've landed on a snake': Nationals reshuffle fails to heal old wounds .
Bruised Nationals MPs are warning it will take some time to mend bitter divisions following Barnaby Joyce's ousting of Michael McCormack and his allies from cabinet.Mr Joyce's decision to dump both Victorian MP Darren Chester and Queenslander Keith Pitt from cabinet and elevate two of his backers, Bridget McKenzie and Andrew Gee, mirrored a similar reshuffle in December 2017, which many Nationals believe started three years of animosity within the party room.