Michael McCormack has been sworn in as Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister, following his victory in a leadership ballot of the Federal Nationals this morning in Canberra.
It follows a turbulent few weeks for the party and the Turnbull Government, which culminated in Barnaby Joyce announcing last Friday that he would stand down as Nationals leader.
Queensland MP George Christensen also stood in the leadership ballot but was comfortably defeated. Victorian Senator and Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie was not challenged and will remain in Cabinet with her current portfolios of Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications.
In addition to maintaining his current portfolios of Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel, Mr McCormack will also take on the responsibilities of Infrastructure and Transport. He has also flagged his desire to see the Small Business portfolio elevated to Cabinet level.
Although hailing from the country town of Wagga Wagga, Mr McCormack does not possess the same professional background as many of his Nationals colleagues and will be the first non-farmer to lead the Party since 1990. Prior to entering parliament Mr McCormack worked in journalism, rising to be editor of the local Wagga Paper, The Advertiser, at the age of 27.
He was elected to parliament in 2010 and held several junior ministries such as Assistant Defence Minister, Small Business Minister and Assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Barnaby Joyce will move to the backbench where he will remain as the Member for New England and has indicted his intention to again contest the seat at the next election.