VETERANS Affairs Minister Michael McCormack has been elected the new Federal Nationals leader, fending off a last-minute challenge from Queenslander George Christensen.
Party members and senators had gathered for a special party meeting earlier this week to see former leader Barnaby Joyce formally stand down.
‘‘I want to make sure that people know that in me they will have a fighter. I have a huge challenge ahead of me,’’ Mr McCormack said after the vote.
He acknowledged the ‘‘outstanding leadership’’ of Mr Joyce and insisted his legacy would endure.
Mr McCormack was later sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister at Government House.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said Mr McCormack had his full support and looked forward to getting on with the job.
“Mr McCormack’s extensive experience means he is well prepared to take on the role,” he said.
“Michael is a fighter who is focused on delivering positive outcomes for rural and regional Australia.
“I am looking forward to working with him and getting on with what our constituencies expect of us – good government.”
Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said the Nationals were delighted to swing their united efforts behind Mr McCormack.
“ We can now get on with the business of government and delivering for regional Australia,” he said.