Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has been ousted as leader of the Nationals and will be replaced by former leader Barnaby Joyce.
It comes after Joyce’s ally, former resources minister Matt Canavan, moved a spill motion against Minister McCormack on Monday morning.
The outgoing Deputy PM played a hugely significant role in aviation during the COVID crisis, most prominently as a key figure introducing the ‘RANS’ and ‘DANS’ supplemented routes initiative.
Reports speculate Joyce will harden the party’s position against Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plans of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Joyce said, “I’ve spent three years on the backbench and you know, I hope I come back a better person.
“I don’t want to dwell on the personal, except to say, hopefully, one learns from their mistakes and makes a better person of themselves.
“As the leader, I’ll be talking with my party room about what they believe is best for them.
“It is not Barnaby policy, it’s Nationals’ policy and Nationals’ policy is what I will be an advocate for.
“I’m not detracting for one second or one iota, the qualities that Michael [McCormack] has and has shown the Parliament.
“I have a different suite of attributes and I hopefully will be able to apply them in such a way as to give us the best chance.”
He paid tribute to his predecessor, who he said was an “incredibly good and honourable, decent man”.
“That was not a decision … that I made, it’s a decision my colleagues made,” he said.
Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said it was time to “draw a line in the sand and get on with the job”.
On Saturday afternoon, Minister McCormack played down the “unsourced reports” predicting his demise today.
“I am concentrating to make sure we get things sorted during this pandemic which has killed 3.8 million people and we have a big job to do for and on behalf of all Australians,” Minister McCormack said. “If others want to talk about themselves then that is a matter for them.
Joyce resigned as National party leader in 2018 after it emerged he had an affair with the former press secretary to ex-treasurer Peter Costello, Vikki Campion. The couple now have since had two sons.