Barnaby Joyce: ‘I will put my hand up’
Barnaby Joyce will challenge Michael McCormack for the leadership of the National Party if the position is spilled.
Nationals MPs will meet in Canberra on Tuesday to vote for a new deputy leader after Bridget McKenzie resigned over the sports rorts scandal.
"If there is a spill then I will put my hand up," Mr Joyce told the Seven Network.
"I will leave that up to my colleagues. They can make the call."
With Senator McKenzie stepping down as deputy, there will be a ballot for her position, but it is up to the Nationals' party room as to whether there is a leadership spill.
Nationals MPs have approached Mr Joyce, who resigned as deputy prime minister and leader in February 2018, to challenge the incumbent, The Australianreports.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the departure of McKenzie on Sunday afternoon following the handing down of a report by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Phil Gaetjeans.
Senator McKenzie was under intense scrutiny for weeks over her handling of a $100 million taxpayer-funded sports grants program which she was accused of using to pork-barrel Coalition and targeted seats.
Mr Morrison said the report found there was no basis "the minister had breached standard in that respect".
"(Mr Gaetjeans) notes that data indicates applications for marginal or targeted seats were approved by the Minister, at a statistically similar ratio of 32 per cent compared to the number of applications from other electorates at 36 per cent."
However, the inquiry found Senator McKenzie breached ministerial standards when she failed to disclose she was a member of the Wangaratta Clay Target Club which received $36,000 from the program.
Mr Morrison said: "By failing to put appropriate arrangements in place to avoid potential conflict such as asking another minister to make any decisions relating to organisations of which she was a member … the Minister failed to do that and the secretary found this was in breach of the ministerial standards."
The prime minister's popularity has taken a dive following the 'sports rort' and the bushfire crisis.
An exclusive Newspoll for The Australian has revealed that support for the Coalition has fallen to 38 per cent.
According to the primary vote figures, if the federal election happened now, Labor would enjoy a two-point turnaround of 52-48.
The Liberal-Nationals primary vote would drop by two points for this year, with which would put their vote 3.4 points down on the May 2019 election result.
Mr Morrison's approval ratings plunged eight points in January to 37 per cent when Newspoll conducted the first voter survey for 2020.