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Deputy prime minister declares he’s ‘not a quitter’ amid threats of a leadership spill

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says he is confident he will not face a showdown over his leadership when his party-room meets on Monday. 

The Nationals leader has been subject to internal criticism over his performance as party leader and deputy prime minister, which has intensified since the federal budget was handed down in May.

Supporters maintain he still has the numbers to hold the top job, and Mr McCormack agrees.

“I would like to think I’ve got the party’s support,” he told SBS News today.

The latest round of leadership speculation follows a report in The Australian Financial Review, based on anonymous sources, foreshadowing a leadership spill as early as Monday in the regular Nationals party-room meeting.

While Mr McCormack says he is not expecting a spill, and has not been told to prepare for a challenger, he says would stand again in that hypothetical situation.

“I am not a quitter,” Mr McCormack said.

“I am focused, as always, on helping Australians to recover from the pandemic, rebuilding after the Victorian floods and the growth of regional Australia.”

The deputy prime minister also hit out at those backgrounding against him.

“If others within government think that they should be talking about themselves and their ambitions at this difficult and challenging time then that’s a matter for them,” he said.

“I’m concentrating on the issues that matter to ordinary, everyday Australians.”

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in May.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in May.

AAP

A well-placed Nationals source says “it is on”, and Mr McCormack will face a contest, likely triggered by former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

Mr Joyce has been approached for comment.

Another possible leadership contender being discussed is high-profile Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

But another high-ranking Nationals politician said they did not believe the numbers had shifted and the weekend leak – of a possible spill – was designed to create momentum and force that outcome.

Mr McCormack will be in regional Queensland tomorrow before returning to Canberra for the parliamentary sitting week. 

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