Australia to get new deputy PM after party revolt

Lawrence Kim
June 22, 2021

Here we go again: Barnaby Joyce is once again the leader of the Nationals party and therefore Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

Morrison has been forced to balance the concerns of the Nationals, as the junior partner in the Coalition government, against growing global pressure on Australia to make a formal commitment to a net-zero emissions target.

The party, which represents farmers and rural voters, has 21 members in the governing centre-right coalition.

Critics of Mr McCormack said he had not been assertive enough about the National party's stance within the coalition.

At the G7 summit last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison displayed growing support for the target.

It is understood that Joyce had been working on building support for a leadership challenge for some time and had won the backing of a number within the Nationals party room who wanted a leader who would advocate for more support for fossil fuel industries. Mr Joyce is a hardliner when it comes to issues such as climate change and coal and it is expected that he will seek to differentiate the Nationals from the LIberals. Earlier that morning, Joyce had said there was "no prospect of a spill". There had been constant criticism among Nationals that McCormack had not stood up to Mr Morrison as firmly as he could have. But the mere suggestion of him inching towards more serious climate policy is enough to anger his coalition partners.

As a result of today's events, it now appears even more unlikely that the Morrison government will join global peers in setting stronger emissions target, and raises the prospect that a Joyce-led Nationals party will use their position within the Coalition government to stronger pro-coal and gas policies.

Mr Joyce will likely take a hard line on climate policies, making any small steps the government takes towards emissions reductions very tricky.

But he echoed conservative talking points that strong climate change action posed a threat to Australia's commodity-dependent economy. The Prime Minister is stuck between two hard pulling forces - global pressure from strategic allies like the United Kingdom and the U.S. for more robust emissions reduction targets, and a coalition partner that is firmly wedded to the country's fossil fuel industry.

Just a week after his re-election, he attacked Ms Ardern's government over its long-standing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Australia's offshore mandatory detention regime, saying New Zealand should "stay away from another country's business".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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