Outspoken Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has been reinstalled as National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister after rolling Michael McCormack in a snap leadership ballot.
A spill motion was moved by Nationals Senator and Joyce supporter Matt Canavan during a party room meeting in Canberra on Monday morning.
Nationals Whip Damien Drum confirmed the result in a brief statement following the meeting but would not reveal the vote count.
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“There was a spill motion put forward, the spill motion was carried, we had an election and Barnaby Joyce was elected leader of the National Party at a federal level,” Mr Drum said.
“He has to go through a process now to be sworn in, to have all the conversations, to talk to the Prime Minister and effectively get on with the job of representing our people.”
David Littleproud remains as Deputy Nationals leader.
Speaking shortly after the meeting, Mr McCormack resisted the temptation to criticise his colleagues.
“It’s been an honour to have represented this nation for the last three years and I’m proud of the fact that I did my best and that’s all anyone could ever ask,” Mr McCormack told reporters.
When asked if he was disappointed or had been betrayed by his colleagues, Mr McCormack replied “that’s democracy.”
The Nationals have faced leadership rumblings over concerns the party has lost influence in the Coalition under Mr McCormack’s leadership.
Tensions grew in the last week after Scott Morrison revealed his “preference” for Australia to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a move that angered members of the junior Coalition partner.
Mr McCormack has also come under criticism over his lacklustre performance while Acting Prime Minister last week.
Barnaby Joyce resigned as Nationals leader and Deputy PM in February 2018 after sustained pressure over his relationship with a former staffer.
His return to the top Nationals job is likely to reignite a climate change feud within the Coalition and force a cabinet reshuffle as Mr Joyce looks to rewards his supporters.
The Nationals leadership spill comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison is stuck in quarantine at The Lodge.
That means Mr Joyce will take centre stage during Question Time this week.
More to come.