Michael McCormack is the new Nationals leader and deputy prime minister. Never heard of him? Never fear. We’ve compiled this handy assortment of tidbits and controversies to bring you up to speed.
The McCormack basics
From Wagga Wagga in New South Wales’ Riverina region, McCormack is a Nationals MP with a fairly typical history. He grew up on family farms at Marrar and Brucedale and still lives in the Riverina with his wife and three children. McCormack began working life as a cadet journalist with the local Wagga paper, the Daily Advertiser. McCormack shot through the editorial ranks to become editor at just 27.
McCormack first came to parliament in 2010, having fought off both Liberal and Labor candidates in his seat. It was unusual, in a sense. The Liberals hadn’t run a candidate in Riverina for 12 years. It didn’t change the result. McCormack won with a huge margin, taking the seat from the retiring Kay Hull, who McCormack previously worked for as campaign director.
He’s held various roles in the junior ministry since, including assistant defence minister, small business minister and assistant to the deputy prime minister. He is currently minister for veterans affairs and defence personnel.
Labor have been quick to point out McCormack is “the first non-farmer to lead the Nationals since Charles Blunt”. Blunt led the party in 1989 and 1990.
The homophobic editorial
In 1993, while still editor of the Daily Advertiser, McCormack penned a hugely controversial editorial about gay Australians and HIV/Aids. The editorial was profoundly homophobic and offensive. McCormack argued that “a week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society”.
“Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”