Nationals MPs not ruling out move on leader Michael McCormack before next election

| 11.03,19. 06:13 AM |

Nationals MPs not ruling out move on leader Michael McCormack before next election

Photo: Michael McCormack said he would consider coal-fired power "if the business case stacks up". (ABC News: Nicholas Haggarty)

Nervous Nationals MPs are not ruling out a move on their leader, Michael McCormack, before the next election unless he significantly hardens his calls for a taxpayer underwrite of a coal-fired power station.

In what looms as a dilemma for the Coalition, Queensland Nationals told the ABC they want coal generation among the projects shortlisted for taxpayer subsidy by Energy Minister Angus Taylor — and they want Mr McCormack to demand it.

But Liberals said that if coal projects do feature on Mr Taylor's "Underwriting New Generation Investments" list, their party would suffer in city seats.

This includes where sitting Liberal MPs are facing contests from high-profile independents preaching tougher action on climate change, such as Kooyong — held by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg — and former prime minister Tony Abbott's electorate of Warringah.

One Nationals MP said the Coalition junior party was staring at its "worst percentage loss in Nationals history" and nominated the Queensland seats of Dawson, held by George Christensen, Flynn, held by Ken O'Dowd, and Capricornia, held by Michelle Landry, as likely losses, along with the NSW seat of Page, held by Kevin Hogan.

Mr McCormack said the Government would consider supporting new coal-fired power if it made financial sense.

"If the future means building another coal-fired power station or building one indeed in north Queensland, then certainly we'll look at it, if the business case stacks up," he said.

One Queensland National told the ABC that Mr McCormack's support for underwriting a coal project needed to be explicit and without condition.

Six Queensland Nationals wrote to their leader last week calling on him to "take immediate action" to "underwrite new generating capacity [power station] construction for regional Queensland", noting that industry, small business and consumers were at "their wits' end" because of exorbitant energy costs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when asked whether he supported Federal investment in coal-fired power, replied: "We're supportive of reliable power — I've already made a number of announcements in this area.

"We're technology and resource agnostic when it comes to ensuring that we have reliable power."

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce supports underwriting new coal-fired generation.

Mr Joyce told the ABC he would be a contender if there was a vacancy — but insisted he would not be calling for a leadership spill.

"I was elected by the Australian people as Deputy Prime Minister. I've got no intention of spilling the numbers … but I do say if the position was vacant then of course I'd stand," he said.

The Nationals partyroom next meets at 10:00am on April 1, the day before the Federal Budget.

One supporter of Mr Joyce returning as leader said the maverick NSW MP had more cut-through and much greater voter recognition than Mr McCormack.

Some Nationals MPs say they would never support Mr Joyce returning to the leadership — one of them described him as "damaged goods" — and said he would deter female voters from supporting the Nationals.

But another Nationals MP said Mr Joyce would easily have sufficient support to become leader again, if a spill was brought on.


(Votes: 0)

Other News

Gun ownership in NSW surges past 1 million mark just in time for state election Two men arrested, two armed men on the run after Sydney crime rampage Man charged with murder of Sydney woman Woman, 84, dies after being rescued from car submerged in NSW river Manhunt underway following crime spree in Sydney's south-west Elderly people breaking the law to use medicinal cannabis for the aches and pains of ageing Suspects in fatal shooting at Melbourne boxing tournament arrested in NSW NSW man who helped fiancée kill her ex-husband jailed WA govt rejects EPA carbon neutral advice Father thanks man who rescued daughter from Craigieburn sexual assault European backpacker says she felt like a 'slave' during two-day rape ordeal in 'dirty pig shed' Bunyip State Park fire destroyed 29 houses, Victorian authorities confirm مصر.. تبادل إطلاق نار بين الأمن وإمسلحين في الجيزة Footage shows moment axe-wielding man threatens mum and children and steals their car Adelaide driving examiner accepted bribes to fund 'hedonistic' lifestyle, court hears Sydney construction worker injured in forklift rollover accident ANZ email scam will steal your internet banking login credentials Geelong home peppered with bullets in daylight shooting Interest rates may get cut as economy founders Bill Shorten pushes for minimum wage rise Baden Bond's father jailed for 12 years after abandoning toddler at boat ramp Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy was 'living her best life' before being murdered, family says Son knew about faulty brakes before bus crash killed driver father, court told Six-year-old critical after crash Jay Brogden: Police convinced missing man was murdered 'after death threats' Preethi Reddy murder suspect's family were on lookout for potential brides Victoria's Mount Baw Baw has bushfires and snow all in the same week Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy's body found in suitcase, ex-boyfriend dies in fiery car crash Serious concerns held for dentist who was last seen in Sydney's CBD Victoria bushfires: Dargo blaze flares up as nine homes confirmed razed in Bunyip