Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack has been elected the new federal Nationals leader, seeing out a last-minute challenge from Queenslander George Christensen.
Party members and senators had gathered for a special party meeting at 8am in Parliament House to see former leader Barnaby Joyce formally stand down after weeks of fall out surrounding his marriage break-up and relationship with a former staffer who is now pregnant.
“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.
NSW MP David Gillespie and agriculture minister and Joyce supporter David Littleproud earlier withdrew from a leadership contest.
LISTEN: Natalie Joyce is devastated and so she bloody well should be.
But in a surprise move, Mr Christensen put up his hand, although his bid was unsuccessful.
“George has been a friend of mine and will continue to be so,” Mr McCormack said.
Earlier, Victorian MP Andrew Broad likened Mr McCormack to former leader Warren Truss.
“Michael is going to be a good guy. I think he will be a very solid performer, but it’s the team that wins elections,” he told ABC radio on Monday.