2018 National Party of Australia leadership election
A leadership election was held on 26 February 2018 to select Barnaby Joyce's replacement as leader of the National Party of Australia and Deputy Prime Minister. Michael McCormack was elected party leader.
On the morning of 26 February, the Nationals held a party room meeting at which Joyce formally resigned to the backbench. McCormack was seen as the favourite to become leader, and was the only declared candidate as at 25 February. At the meeting he secured the support of a majority of the 21 National Party parliamentarians, seeing off a last-minute challenge from Queensland MP George Christensen.
Barnaby Joyce, who had led the National Party since replacing Warren Truss in February 2016, announced on 23 February 2018 that he would resign as party leader during a party room meeting on 26 February. His resignation followed scandals involving an affair with a former staffer and a sexual harassment allegation. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was on a state visit to the United States at the time, appointed Regional Development Minister John McVeigh, from the Liberal branch of the Liberal National Party of Queensland, to take on Joyce's cabinet role as Acting Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.
Prior to the events of February 2018, Joyce was viewed as a charismatic leader, who had been re-elected as the member for New England with a substantial and increased majority in a December 2017 by-election. He maintained the support of a majority of his party members even as scandals unfolded, with some exceptions including the party's Western Australian branch and Andrew Broad.
Under the Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National Parties, the Nationals' leader serves as deputy prime minister in a Coalition government. Therefore, the decision of National Party members would determine who succeeded Joyce as deputy PM. Following the 2016 election, sixteen National Party MPs sat in the Australian House of Representatives (including six from the Queensland Liberal National Party, and Joyce himself as a backbencher since his announcement). Some of the highest-profile National Party parliamentarians, namely deputy leader Bridget McKenzie and Resources Minister Matt Canavan, sit in the Senate; no senator has served as deputy prime minister in the history of the position.
- George Christensen, MP for Dawson since 2010, former Chief Whip from 2016–2017
- Michael McCormack, MP for Riverina since 2010, Minister since 2016 (currently for Defence Personnel and Veterans' Affairs)
- David Gillespie, MP for Lyne since 2013, Assistant Minister since 2016 (currently for Children and Families)
- Sitting MPs
- The National Party did not divulge how many votes each candidate received.
- Kenny, Mark (26 February 2018). "Michael McCormack new Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals leader". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- McIlroy, Tom (23 February 2018). "Nationals leadership: who could replace Barnaby Joyce?". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Doran, Matthew (26 February 2018). "Nationals pick Michael McCormack as new leader in contested vote against George Christensen". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- "Barnaby Joyce Resigns After Weeks Of Scandal". HuffPost. 23 February 2018.
- "MEDIA RELEASE 23 Feb 2018 Prime Minister". Prime Minister of Australia. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Barbour, Lucy (13 February 2018). "Nationals in talks about asking Barnaby Joyce to resign". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Tillett, Andrew (20 February 2018). "Benched Barnaby Joyce tells WA Nationals where to go". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Barbour, Lucy (19 February 2018). "Barnaby Joyce has National party's support "at the moment"". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Graham, Ben; Killalea, Debra (23 February 2018). "Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce resigns as Nationals leader". news.com.au.
- "Dr David Gillespie confirms he will stand for leadership of the National Party if Barnaby Joyce resigns". Manning River Times. 23 February 2018.
- Doran, Matthew (25 February 2018). "Acting Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie urges party to put forward one candidate to replace Barnaby Joyce". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Jarrod Whitaker (23 February 2018). "Chester will not contest leadership". Latrobe Valley Express. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Gartrell, Adam (25 February 2017). "Rookie MP rules out bid to become Deputy Prime Minister". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- Colin Bettles (23 February 2018). "Coulton: Michael McCormack 'early favourite' for Nats leadership". Northern Daily Leader. Retrieved 23 February 2018.