Leadership chatter appears to have descended on the Nationals, but member for Riverina Michael McCormack – touted as a future leader in some circles – isn’t having a bar of it.
“(I’m) not buying into any of that sort of speculation,” he told the Advertiser on Sunday.
Reports are swirling of a potential tilt to claim the leadership by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce – perhaps facilitated by an earlier-than-expected retirement by current leader Warren Truss – but he has said he remains loyal to the current Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Truss announced in August he would recontest his seat at the next election and stay on into the next term after it had previously been speculated he may to choose to retire at next year’s poll.
With Mr Truss set to stay on for longer than expected, MPs other than Mr Joyce, the current deputy leader, have been given a chance to build their leadership credentials ahead of his looming retirement.
Despite his August announcement though, speculation Mr Truss could still choose to retire next year refuses to die down.
Mr McCormack, however, insists the leadership is not on his radar at this time.
“I am busy enough doing what I need to do each day to continue to best represent the interests of the people of the Riverina and fulfil my new infrastructure and regional development portfolio responsibilities,” he said.
In the recent cabinet reshuffle brought on by Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister, Mr McCormack was appointed as the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, in a move that has been reportedly designed to ease Mr Truss’ workload and travel burden.
Mr McCormack said he continued to remain a strong supporter of Mr Truss.
“Warren has the support of the party and has done since he was elected leader in 2007,” he said.
“We’ve just finalised a good Coalition agreement with the new Prime Minister which brings enormous benefits for regional Australia and Warren was at the forefront of those negotiations.”
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