Michael McCormack insists he will remain Nationals leader into the election

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack took over the leadership from a scandal-hit Barnaby Joyce 12 months ago.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack took over the leadership from a scandal-hit Barnaby Joyce 12 months ago.

Fresh conflict among the National party has arisen in the lead up to the federal election, challenging Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack's leadership capabilities.

Talk surrounding McCormack's poor efforts with regional Australian aid and policy focus has lead to the possibility of another leadership spill within the National party, suggesting ex-Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce may be the next in line. 

Mr McCormack said he was not concerned about the threat.

“I am 100 per cent confident I will lead The Nationals to the election," he said.

"My colleagues have gotten behind me today, they have told me this story is unsubstantiated, they support me and, moreover, they support the job which I am doing."

As Member for Riverina and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Mr McCormack said leadership should focus on results for the people.

"This should not be about personality, this should be about outcomes and certainly I have produced outcomes," he said.

"You only need to look as far as this week where I announced a $5.3 million dollar funding grant through the Building Better Regions fund for the Temora Aerodrome which will further boost the Temora Aviation Museum as a tourism stronghold in our region."

The Deputy PM said his party is a united front.

"People want stability. They want politicians to stop focusing on themselves and work for the people who they serve," he said.

"That is what I do and my National Party colleagues do every day.”

CSU political academic Dominic O'Sullivan said the inter-party controversy was poorly timed. 

"Government needs to show voters they’re stable, know what they’re doing, can work together, and also have to be able to show that this isn’t just about self interest," he said.

"The unrest intensifies uncertainty among people who ordinarily vote Nationals, and they will be looking somewhere else."

Mr O'Sullivan said while the division between Nationals members is detrimental in itself, the choice of Mr Joyce taking over has its own set of risks.

"Barnaby Joyce's reputation is not good after his private life publicly unfolded, particularly with women, and the coalition is already struggling with female voters," he said.

The political expert said is a very slim chance any good will come of the conflict.

"This close to an election, you’d have to have very good reason to change leaders, it would have to be a serious scandal or ill health or something like that so as to not alarm the public," he said.