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Barnaby Joyce Elected Nationals Leader; Nash New Deputy

Barnaby Joyce has been elected unopposed as leader of The Nationals and will become Deputy Prime Minister in the next few days.

Joyce assumed the leadership at a partyroom meeting at 8pm tonight. It followed the announcement earlier today by Warren Truss that he was retiring.

NSW Senator Fiona Nash was elected deputy leader. There were 7 candidates for the position out of a partyroom of 21 members. No vote tallies were released and the ballot papers have been destroyed.

Joyce

Joyce and Nash will take office when Truss officially steps down. This is likely to be early next week, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce a reshuffle over the weekend.

Joyce, 48, represents the NSW electorate of New England. He was elected as a Queensland senator at the 2004 federal election until he moved to the House at the 2013 election.

Nash, 50, was also elected at the 2004 election. With Joyce, she began her term on July 1, 2005. She is the first woman to hold a leadership position in The Nationals.

Joyce and Nash met with Turnbull shortly after their election. Turnbull described their election as “exciting”. They then held a press conference. Joyce said the leadership team would meet tomorrow to discuss the coalition agreement with the Liberal Party.

The leadership change in The Nationals came at the end of a day in which the Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb, also announced that he will retire at this year’s election.

The impending ministerial reshuffle is shaping up as a significant reshaping of the government. The positions of Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough, who both resigned on December 29, have yet to be filled. The Minister for Human Services and Minister for Veterans, Stuart Robert, is under pressure over ministerial standards and may be forced to resign if an inquiry by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet makes an adverse finding.

As Deputy Prime Minister, Joyce is entitled to choose his own portfolio, although he is likely to retain the Agriculture ministry.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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