Darren Chester to challenge Barnaby Joyce for Nationals leadership

Former veterans affairs minister Darren Chester will challenge Barnaby Joyce for the Nationals leadership when the party meets in Canberra on Monday.

Chester confirmed his intention to nominate for the leadership late Thursday, telling The Age and Sydney Morning Herald it was “time for a change”.

Nationals MP Darren Chester.Credit:Simon Schluter

“We need to be honest with each other in the party room and take some responsibility for the Liberal losses in the city,” Chester said.

“How we develop our policies, deliver our message, and work with our Coalition partners in the future will determine whether we can return to government and deliver for regional communities.”

Following the Coalition's election loss, furious city-based Liberal MPs have vented their frustration over Joyce’s comments during the campaign deriding the Coalition’s net-zero emissions policy, which they claim damaged their election chances.

While the National Party held on to all 16 lower house seats in Saturday’s federal election, the Liberal Party lost a string of once-safe electorates in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane held by more moderate Liberals MPs.

In the days since the election, Joyce has repeatedly rejected criticism that his comments surrounding the net-zero emissions target had harmed his colleagues in the Coalition.

Three Nationals MPs, speaking to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on the condition of anonymity, said they also expect deputy leader David Littleproud to mount a challenge on Monday.

Littleproud, who has so far refused to confirm his leadership ambitions, is expected to have strong support.

Earlier in the week, former National Party leader Michael McCormack told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald he was also considering nominating himself to return to the top job saying the Nationals were in a “despairing” position now the Coalition was out of government.

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