Michael McCormack backs rules to make Nationals leadership spills more difficult


“It was raised last year. I know it’s going to be raised again. It’s already been flagged,” he told Sky News.

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“I think what it will put an end to is the media having that opportunity to sometimes stir up the hornet’s nest when the hornet’s nest isn’t necessarily needing to be stirred up at all.”

Mr Joyce told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he did not back the change but others appear to be lending their support to a shift of some kind, with the details yet to be decided.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said he agreed to the principle and was ready to negotiate on the key threshold, the proportion of the party room members who need to vote for a spill in order for it to succeed.

The Tuesday ballot was the first challenge against an incumbent Nationals leader for three decades and only required a motion from one MP to force the vote and a simple majority to decide the outcome.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison oversaw changes to the Liberal party room in December 2018 to require two thirds of the MPs to support a spill against a sitting prime minister in order for it to succeed.

The Labor caucus rules require a majority of 75 per cent against a sitting prime minister.

Mr McCormack is preparing to name new ministers on Thursday to replace former deputy leader Bridget McKenzie, who resigned over the sports funding affair, and former resources minister Matt Canavan, who resigned to back Mr Joyce.

The new deputy, David Littleproud, is expected to take the agriculture and drought portfolio.

Mr Chester is expected to return to cabinet from the outer ministry in a reversal of his demotion in December 2017, when Mr Joyce dropped him in order to elevate Mr Littleproud.

Keith Pitt is in the running for the resources portfolio and a position in cabinet.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Queensland MP Keith Pitt, an engineer and sugar cane farmer, is in the running for the resources portfolio and a position in cabinet, but others from his state are also seen as possible candidates for promotion.

The assistant minister for children and families and member for Capricornia in Queensland, Michelle Landry, could gain a full ministry but some Nationals named a NSW assistant minister, Andrew Gee, as another contender.

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