Australia's deputy PM survives leadership challenge

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-04 11:30:38|Editor: Liu
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CANBERRA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Australia's deputy prime minister Michael McCormack on Tuesday survived a challenge to his leadership, re-elected to lead the Nationals Party, defeating former leader Barnaby Joyce.

Addressing the media after the vote, McCormack said it was a great honour to lead the Nationals, which traditionally represents rural voters.

"I have never shied from the responsibility of making sure that every waking minute of every day I work hard for regional Australians," he said.

"Never before has there been such an important time for the National Party to continue the representation we've done for 100 years. It's the challenge that is there. Of course, with the fires, with the ongoing drought.

"I think we need to draw a line in the sand and concentrate on the fire victims. There's been many who have lost loved ones. Our thoughts go to them."

Together with the Liberal Party, the Nationals form the Coalition.

When in government the leader of the party serves as deputy prime minister while the leader of the Liberals - currently Scott Morrison - is prime minister.

Speaking before the vote on Tuesday morning Morrison said that he looked forward to working with the leader of the Nationals regardless of the result.

"The leaders of the parties have always worked closely together for the good of the country," he said.

"The Coalition is between the Liberals and the Nationals. And that Coalition has always provided very stable and very good government for this country."

Joyce previously led the Nationals between February 2016 and February 2018 when he stood down amidst the breakdown of his marriage.

He announced his intention to challenge McCormack on Monday after deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie resigned on Sunday.

Following the vote McCormack said that Matt Canavan, who resigned as the minister for resources on Monday and declared his support for Joyce, would not return to the ministry.

David Littleproud, the minister for water resources, drought, emergency management and natural disaster, was elected to replace McKenzie as the deputy leader of the Nationals.

"The shenanigans are over, it's time to get back to looking after those people that are facing drought, that have faced up to the fires. It's time for us to focus on them, not us," he said.

"Regional and rural Australia has a great future."