By CAITLIN CROWLEY
MARANOA MP David Littleproud has vowed to steer The Nationals towards the “sensible centre” after defeating former leader Barnaby Joyce and Victorian MP Darren Chester in a three-way leadership spill today.
It was a marathon party room meeting for Nationals MPs and senators, tasked with deciding the future direction of the party after last weekend’s disastrous federal election result for the Coalition.
Emerging from the meeting victorious, flanked by new deputy leader Perin Davey and Nationals leader in the senate Bridget McKenzie, Littleproud said it was the proudest day of his professional life.
“Forty years ago I joined the National Party as a 6-year-old, handing out (how to vote cards) for my father at Chinchilla Court House as he tried to become the member for Condamine,” Littleproud said.
“I believe passionately in regional Australia, I believe passionately in the National Party – we are the conscience of rural and regional Australia right here in this parliament.”
He said the party started its journey towards the 2025 election today and that elections are won from the “sensible centre”.
“This is about us as a party, moving forward. Not lurching to the left or lurching to the right, but bringing this thing called common sense to Canberra,” he said.
The new leader indicated the party won’t be backing away from its ‘net zero’ commitment on climate.
“I don’t think regional and rural Australia are against us reducing emissions,” he said.
“It will be the team, the collective wisdom of those men and women that will drive the National Party into the future.”
Second-term New South Wales senator Perin Davey was elected Deputy Leader, saying her focus was on the future and the party remaining a strong voice for the regions.
“We’ve got three years to make sure we hold the new government to account, and to make sure they don’t forget the regions, and they don’t sell us short by doing deals with other parties and other interests,” she said.
Littleproud said he was proud to have two “bright, articulate and powerful” women on his leadership team.
The Liberals also held a party room this morning, with former defence minister Peter Dutton elected unopposed as leader, with Sussan Ley elected his new deputy.