Michael McCormack elected Nationals leader, Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has shrugged off concerns about his leadership.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has shrugged off concerns about his leadership. Photo: AAP

Michael McCormack will be sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister after being elected the new leader of the National Party on Monday.

Mr McCormack was expected to run unopposed, but won the contest ahead of outspoken Queensland MP George Christensen, who launched a last-minute bid for the position at the Monday morning party room meeting.

The surprise move from Mr Christensen, who called for the Coalition to be dissolved on Saturday, came despite Acting Leader Bridget McKenzie urging the party to only put forward one candidate.

Nationals whip Michelle Landry would not reveal how many votes each candidate had received when asked on Monday morning.

Mr McCormack, who is currently Veterans’ Affairs Minister, said following the vote that he hoped to honour the faith and trust of his colleagues.

“I am a team player and I will do it with the very best team for rural and regional Australia to serve the interest of our nation, particularly of those people who live in country, coastal and regional areas,” he said.

Asked if he was merely warming the seat for his predecessor Barnaby Joyce, who quit amid ongoing scandal on Friday, said he was sure Mr Joyce would remain an “important part” of the team.

“I have been kicked out of Parliament for defending him before … I will certainly make sure they are we are very close and we will continue to work as a team,” he said.

Mr McCormack, who has a low profile compared with Mr Joyce, said voters were not concerned about personalities.

“When I go about, whether I am talking to the Country Women’s Associations group, sporting events, in a supermarket, wherever I am, people don’t talk to me about political personalities, they talk about jobs, their jobs and their children’s jobs going forward,” he said.

Mr McCormack also paid tribute to Mr Joyce, who officially resigned as leader on Monday morning.

“He has been an outstanding leader,” he said.

“I look forward to him being part of our very strong Nationals going forward.”

Mr McCormack said he would meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday to discuss ministerial arrangements.

Lyne MP David Gillespie pulled out of the race on Sunday, while David Littleproud also confirmed he would not run on Sunday night, saying “now is the time to think about stability and the good of the party”.

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