“That process has been followed and the issue is finalised. This was made as brief as possible prior to the first sitting of Parliament for the year. Now it’s time we all got back to our jobs.”
The former leader, who resigned in February 2018 after the public breakdown of his marriage following an affair with his media adviser, Vikki Campion, had promised colleagues he would renegotiate a stronger Coalition agreement that would include more coal-fired power and a shake-up of the management of the Murray Darling basin with a “better basin plan”.
“I’ll be looking at the issues of resources and power and energy prices, especially to the north,” he said prior to the ballot.
“I’ve been in politics longer than Scott Morrison, and I’ve been in leadership longer than Scott Morrison … I know how to deal at the highest level. I’ve been at the table, and for our team, for the Nationals team, if I’m given the opportunity, the great honour to do that again, I will.”
Long-standing National Party conventions prevent the disclosure of the final numbers being released, with Mr Joyce’s supporters claiming they fell one short 11-10 while Mr McCormack’s supporters believe it was as high as 15 votes to six.
Mr Joyce’s supporters rejected speculation he would embark on a destabilisation campaign after losing a party room vote, which they are convinced was “very tight”, but hoped their action would deliver a “wake up call” to the party’s leadership and direction of the government.
But they believe Mr McCormack must do more to win over those who voted against him on Tuesday and urged him to return Senator Matt Canavan to the ministry in the near future and put Mr Joyce’s “experience and passion” to good use.
Senator Canavan’s decision to resign as Resources Minister on Monday night gave Mr McCormack an extra cabinet position to offer potential swinging voters within the party room.