Barnaby Joyce has been sworn in as the new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, after ousting Michael McCormack in a leadership spill.
Joyce, who has been on the backbench for three years, travelled to Government House in Canberra for an official swearing-in ceremony today, where his return to the deputy prime ministership was confirmed by Governor-General David Hurley.
On Monday, Queensland Senator Matt Canavan moved a spill motion to bring on the leadership vote at a party room meeting wherein Joyce secured majority of 21 votes.
Joyce served as Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development from December 2017 to February 2018. He was forced to relinquish the role in February 2018 following revelations about his affair with former staffer and now-partner.
The peak body for Australia’s civil construction industry, Civil Contractors Federation National (CCF National) acknowledged the significant contribution of Michael McCormack to the infrastructure portfolio and congratulated Barnaby Joyce on his appointment as Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development.
“Michael McCormack made a significant contribution to the Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development portfolio as evidenced by the federal government’s infrastructure investment program and CCF National congratulates him on his achievements since he came to the position in early 2018,” CCF Chief Executive Officer Chris Melham said in a statement.
Noting the significant growth in infrastructure funding commitments from the federal government during McCormack’s tenure – $110 billion as compared to $75 billion in 2016 financial year – Melham thanked the outgoing Minister for his strong contribution to the sector.
“Mr. McCormack’s commitment to engage with the Civil Contractors Federation and infrastructure sector more broadly has also been appreciated by industry, particularly as we grappled with the initial economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Civil Contractors Federation looks forward to continuing this strong working relationship with Mr. Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as the newly appointed Federal Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development, who we congratulate on his appointment,” Melham concluded.
Michael McCormack had served as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development from February 2018. He was also Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, having previously served as Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from 2017 to 2018.
Joyce’s sudden ascension comes as the Nationals push back against a sharp pivot to net zero emissions by 2050 made by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Resources Minister, Keith Pitt had declared last week that the policy of net zero emissions by 2050 could not be adopted by Morrison without the backing of the Nationals.
Joyce had stressed the need for the party to speak more strongly for its traditional base ahead of the spill, including advocating a pro-coal stance since his return to the backbench.
He said he would now broker a new Coalition agreement with the Prime Minister but would not be drawn on pre-empting the party’s policy positions.