Michael McCormack becomes Deputy PM and Nationals leader

Michael McCormack has been sworn in as Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister after he won a ballot to become the leader of the Nationals.

The Nationals chose the member for Riverina as their new leader after Barnaby Joyce announced his resignation on Friday following weeks of scandal surrounding his extra-marital affair.

Queensland MP George Christensen also stood for the leadership. Over the weekend Christensen put forward a proposal for the Nationals to leave the coalition and stand separate to the Liberals, but his colleagues disagreed and backed McCormack to take over as leader.

McCormack is best known among the LGBTI community for offensive comments he made in 1993 while editor of his local newspaper in Wagga Wagga.

In an editorial piece McCormack said; “a week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society” and “Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

The politician has apologised for his historical comments and declared that his views had evolved. During the marriage postal survey McCormack sided with the ‘No’ vote and expressed his opposition to marriage equality.

Commentator Mark Latham has criticised people for highlighting McCormack’s comments saying it was “pathetic” that people were offended by something McCormack had said twenty years ago.

Rodney Croome from just.equal said, that while McCormack had previously apologised for his comments, there was an opportunity for him to now take a leadership role in tackling prejudice in rural Australia.

“Many LGBTI Australians will be justifiably concerned about Michael McCormack being our Deputy Prime Minister given his hateful comments against us in the past.” Croome said.

“Many National Party voters will share our concern given the strong Yes vote in many parts of rural and regional Australia.

“The apologies Mr McCormack made in the past are welcome but given the hatefulness of what he said, and the high office he has stepped in to, he needs to walk the talk.

“He needs to get behind initiatives that will reduce the unacceptably high levels of LGBTI isolation, prejudice and suicide that still exist in some parts of rural Australia.

“He needs to heal the wounds caused by the kind of prejudices he publicly expressed in the past.”

OIP Staff

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