“WE do not need a Bill Shorten government”.
That’s how Riverina, New South Wales, politician Michael McCormack opened his attack on the opposition after taking over from Barnaby Joyce as leader of The Nationals, following a meeting of 21 Federal members in Canberra on Monday.
“I want people to know that in me we have a fighter,” Mr McCormack said after defeating Queensland colleague George Christensen in an unexpected vote,” Mr McCormack said.
“I have a huge challenge ahead of me.
“There is a huge challenge ahead of us as a government.
“(Opposition leader) Bill Shorten would be the worst outcome for Australia.
“He is aligned to militant trade unions, aligned to the Greens.
“He says one thing when he’s campaigning in Queensland and he will certainly be saying another thing when he’s campaigning in Batman (by-election in Victoria).
“We do not need a Bill Shorten government and we are committed, as Nationals, along with the Liberals, to do everything in our power to make sure that we stay in government, so that those jobs can continue, so that those opportunities for Australians can continue.”
Mr McCormack promised to fight and never be silent.
“I realise the challenge and responsibility ahead of me,” he said.
“I will fight.
“I certainly have never shirked from any tough decision and I will never be silent when I ought to speak.
“I want to also pay tribute to Bridget McKenzie who has done great work as the deputy leader for Barnaby Joyce, following on from the good work and the great work by Fiona Nash.
“We are very, very lucky in the National Party.
“We have diversified people, we have versatile people, we have people from all walks of life and together, united, going forward, we will serve the rural and regional areas to the very best of our ability, in the best interest of nation.”
Mr McCormack said The Nationals also represented more than farmers, in Canberra.
He is now expected to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for preliminary talks to decide what the new ministry allocations will be within the Coalition, with a chance he could take over Mr Joyce’s previous portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport.
Mr Turnbull said he was “delighted” to welcome the appointment of Mr McCormack as the new leader of The Nationals and deputy Prime Minister.
“Michael McCormack is a strong advocate for rural Australia – he will continue his party’s long tradition of standing up for farmers and all those living in regional Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The Liberal Party has been in coalition with The Nationals for more than 70 years and our enduring and successful political partnership will continue under Michael’s leadership of The Nationals.
“I congratulate Michael McCormack on his appointment and I look forward to working closely with him and the entire coalition team in the interests of all Australians.”
Mr McCormack said he looked forward to having a good discussion with Mr Turnbull.
“I will be having a careful consideration of portfolio areas,” he said.
“I will have a close discussion with my deputy and we will make those announcements in due course.”