Stakes high as Nationals MPs vote on leadership
CQ’S National Party politicians have decided against vying for the leadership and deputy leadership of their party in what promises to be a dramatic first day of parliament in Canberra today.
A leadership spill is anticipated with Barnaby Joyce expected to challenge Michael McCormack for the party’s leadership today.
He is backed by Senator Matt Canavan who offered his resignation from the front bench in support of his former mentor late yesterday.
This comes after a fortnight of controversy revolving around former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie’s handling of the Federal Government’s $100 million Sports Grants Program reached its climax yesterday.
An investigation by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary concluded that she had breached the ministerial code of conduct by failing to declare she was a member of a Victorian gun club that received a $36,000 grant, forcing her to resign from Cabinet and the party’s deputy leadership.
Speculation was rife about who would take over as deputy with Senator Canavan, destined to become the Nationals leader in the Senate, quick to rule himself out for the deputy role.
“It’s unfortunate what has happened. Obviously the consequence is to have to make decisions in the Nationals party room and I’ll have a discussion with my colleagues. But no, I won’t be standing myself,” Senator Canavan said.
Given the party’s lack of women leadership roles and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry’s experience in parliament, there was the possibility that she could seize the leadership opportunity.
“I will not be running for the Deputy Leader position of the Nationals Party,” Ms Landry said.
“I represent an electorate that is 90,903sq km, with a portfolio that takes me around the country fighting ... for the 45,800 children currently in out-of-home care and I will be spending 20 weeks out of the year in Canberra representing Capricornia,” Ms Landry said.
“I am focused on delivering on my plan for Capricornia, on growing the economy and creating well-paid local jobs including in the mining and resources sectors.”