News National Nationals leader Michael McCormack backs down on anti-spill rules

Nationals leader Michael McCormack backs down on anti-spill rules

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Embattled Michael McCormack has backed down on anti-spill measures. Photo: AAP
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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has backed away from a proposal to make leadership spills within his party more difficult, arguing it could be seen as “self-indulgent”.

Having fought off a challenge from former leader Barnaby Joyce earlier this month, Mr McCormack insisted he would lead the party to the next election.

The Liberal and Labor parties have introduced changes to discourage spills and Mr McCormack recently expressed support for stricter rules.

But he told the ABC’s Insiders program the Nationals “do things differently”.

“I think that might look a little bit self-indulgent and me trying to just protect the leadership,” he said.

“I think that should be decided by the party room.”

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Barnaby Joyce’s bid to wear the leader’s hat sowed chaos among Nationals. Photo: AAP

Mr Joyce’s challenge sparked a damaging fortnight for the Nationals in which former resources minister Matt Canavan resigned from the frontbench and backbencher Llew O’Brien quit the party room.

Asked whether he would rule out supporting a future spill, Senator Canavan said he did not “see any prospect” of one taking place.

“I’m not going to predict events in the future, but I cannot see that happening. Michael has our full support and we’re getting on with it,” he told Sky News.

“We’ve moved on. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but a decision was made in the party room, and I said the day of the decision that Michael has my support, he’s the elected leader of the party room.”

Mr McCormack said he believed his colleagues’ assurances.

“Barnaby Joyce has stated that he will support me, Matthew Canavan has, and others have as well,” he said.

“I always believe country people when they look me in the eye and say something and you’ve got to take people on their word.”

Tensions within the Nationals have been fuelled by some members demanding the Government fund new coal-fired power stations.

Mr McCormack said a “high-efficiency, low-emissions” station at Collinsville, south of Townsville, should proceed if a recently announced feasibility study proved it stacked up.

King Coal

“If it ticks all the boxes, of course it should go ahead,” he said.

“I mean, we want to make sure that when it comes to energy needs, that it’s affordable, reliable, but it’s technology, not taxation.”

He also pushed back against calls from some moderate Liberals for Australia to commit to achieving zero net emissions by 2050.

“I think if you go down that path, what you’re going to do is send factories and industries offshore, send manufacturing jobs offshore. That’s not the Australian way,” he said.

“Regional Australia is more than doing its fair share, its fair share as far as making sure that we have lower emissions.

“And of course, we don’t know what technologies are going to be invented over the next 30 years. It’s a long way down the track to 2050.”