Barnaby Joyce has been re-elected as the new Deputy Prime Minister of Australia after he defeated National leader Michael McCormack in a leadership spill on Monday.
The spill, which was initiated by Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, returned Joyce as leader of the minor party of Australia’s governing coalition after he won the majority of the vote in the 21-member party room meeting.
In a press conference after the spill, Joyce said he was humbled to be elected leader, and that he did not expect to win the spill.
“I’ve spent three years on the backbench and you know, I hope I come back a better person,” he said.
Joyce acknowledged that the three years he spent on the backbench, were a time of reflection and that it gave him space to consider the impact of his actions not just on himself but on others.
“I don’t want to dwell on the personal, except to say, hopefully, one learns from their mistakes and makes a better person of themselves,” he said as he addressed his fellow Australians.
Joyce also noted that he would maintain a strong stance on China and foreign investment in Australia.
“I will make sure we always protect this nation understanding the nuance and complexities of also dealing with our biggest trading partner,” he said. “The Nationals as a party bought about some of the most substantive changes in foreign investment laws when everybody was calling us bigots and rednecks and everything else under the sun; now they just call us correct.”
He said that he would be working to protect the liberties that Australians enjoy.
“The sanctities of the liberties that we hand over to our children, the expectation that they will grow up being able to say whatever they want, as we can say whatever we want, and to live in a free nation is first and foremost in my mind.”
This was Joyce second attempt to topple McCormack after a failed attempt in February 2020, which came after he resigned from the position as leader after there were allegations of sexual harassment made against him. The allegations were found by an internal Nationals investigation to have been without merit.
It was also revealed at this time he was having an extra-marital affair with a political staffer, with whom he now has two children.
McCormack in a press conference on Monday said he respected the decision of the Nationals Party Room, and that he was privileged and humbled to have served as the National Party leader for the past three years.
“I wish Barnaby Joyce all the best as leader of the National Party,” McCormack told reporters.
Opposition leader of the Labor Party Anthony Albanese said in a press conference this morning that the National Party was engaged in “more internal chaos as we’ve seen before.”
“The last time there was a spill in the National Party, it was during the bushfire crisis. This time, it’s during the pandemic. We have a plague of mice around regional Australia and we have a plague of disloyalty in this Parliament when it comes to the National Party.”