New deputy prime minister for Australia after sex scandal forces party shake-up

Vastavam web: The junior partner in Australia’s coalition government elected as its new leader on Monday a former newspaper editor who takes over as deputy prime minister after an embarrassing sex scandal threatened a decades-old conservative alliance.Michael McCormack was chosen in a party-room ballot to replace Barnaby Joyce as the leader of the rural-based National Party after Joyce, who campaigned on family values, resigned over an extramarital affair with his former media secretary.

Under the terms of the coalition deal with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s centre-right Liberal Party, the leader of the Nationals automatically becomes deputy prime minister.McCormack won the party-room vote over a single challenger, George Christensen, who had proposed breaking the alliance with the Nationals’ senior partner.

“I will honour that faith and trust and responsibility by always doing my best,” McCormack told reporters in Canberra.The alliance suffered during a public falling-out between Turnbull and Joyce over the deputy leader’s affair. Turnbull described it as a “shocking error of judgment”, to which Joyce replied by calling Turnbull “inept”.McCormack has kept a low profile in recent years but his appointment is not without controversy. He was forced to apologise for stridently homophobic comments he made in an editorial when he was running a rural newspaper in 1993.Political analysts saw McCormack’s low profile as an early obstacle before elections due by May 2019.

“It will take quite a bit of time before McCormack registers with voters in rural and regional Australia,” said Haydon Manning, a political science professor at Flinders University in South Australia.