Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is under fire from agitated MPs. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is under fire from agitated MPs. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Desperate attempt to stop Nats leadership spill

NATIONALS party president Larry Anthony has met with agitated MPs in Canberra to convince them not to roll Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, even personally appealing to Barnaby Joyce and his supporters.

Mr Anthony today flew in from Brisbane with the LNP campaign director Lincoln Folo to share polling and rally the troops to show Prime Minister Scott Morrison was having cut-through in LNP seats.

Mr Anthony held private one-on-one talks with MPs, some who have become increasingly concerned about Mr McCormack's leadership.

News Queensland understands that even though Mr Anthony the meetings were directly to quell leadership concerns, in some meetings pointed conversations were held with MPs.

 

Federal National Party president Larry Anthony has desperately trying to quash a leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith
Federal National Party president Larry Anthony has desperately trying to quash a leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith

 

 

It is understood a spill is growing more likely, and as soon as November, even though Mr Joyce is not corralling support, there are MPs who are sounding him out about making the move.

It comes as some Nationals MPs privately questioned whether Queensland had been dudded by Mr McCormack and his office after revelations made by The Courier-Mail yesterday.

It was revealed a federal decision to give Queensland farmers a multimillion-dollar export deal and Brisbane passengers cheaper international flights was overridden after intense lobbying from Qantas, whose former senior staff member is now the chief-of-staff to the Deputy Prime Minister.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is under fire from agitated MPs. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is under fire from agitated MPs. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

 

The decision by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to accede to Qantas's concerns about competitor Qatar Airways has shocked some of his own staff especially given it had been given the go ahead by former transport minister Darren Chester in 2017.

Mr McCormack put the deal on ice. The decision was made after he hired Damian Callachor, Qantas's former head of industry affairs, part of Qantas's government relations team.

But Mr McCormack's office said the decision was made in accordance with procedure, and said that the office included an aviation policy adviser, separate to Mr Callachor.

Former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

It is believed a decision could be made soon on the Qatar deal but it is likely it will not be in the same form as what Mr Chester ticked off on. Qatar can still not fly into Queensland.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said yesterday the development was concerning.

"It's concerning to me that the most recent advice I had was that everything was on track to give the green light to Qatar,'' Ms Jones said.

"Qatar currently flies into every other major capital city in Australia. For us, this is about Brisbane increase direct flights to Queensland. We know that more planes with more visitors means jobs for Queenslanders."