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Littleproud denies Nationals leadership ambition amid spill speculation

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He says he is not interested, but one supporter says the time could soon come where the Nationals will turn to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to lead the party.

Key points:

  • Dissatisfaction with current leader and Deputy PM Michael McCormack said to be rising
  • Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says he is "not interested in any leadership position"
  • Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says he is open to returning but is not counting numbers

"He's the new kid on the block, the fresh apple off the tree so it doesn't have any bugs on it," a Nationals MP told AM.

Mr Littleproud told AM through a spokesman: "There's no chance of a leadership contest and even if there was, I am not interested in any leadership position."

Several Nationals sources have told AM there are no immediate moves being made to unseat current leader Michael McCormack, with one source predicting any potential move would be unlikely before December.

Other media organisations are reporting a leadership spill could occur next week, though with the Senate not sitting due to estimates hearings that would be complicated.

One source told AM only Nationals MPs Andrew Broad, Mark Coultan and Michelle Landry remain as core supporters for Mr McCormack, with more than two-thirds of the party room against him.

Former leader Barnaby Joyce yesterday indicated he would be open to returning to leadership, but wasn't counting numbers.

Several Nationals sources expressed concern to AM about that prospect, saying his image with the public has not been rehabilitated after the controversy that saw him dumped as leader earlier this year.

Barnaby Joyce, with an angry expression, walks past empty chairs

McCormack detractors disappointed with performance

The leadership talk comes as dissatisfaction with current leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack is rising, following what detractors describe as a disappointing performance in Parliament.

In response to a question about an unsourced story criticising his leadership, Mr McCormack on Tuesday criticised unsourced stories as a "cancer" and claimed he had never anonymously backgrounded a journalist.

But Sydney radio host Ray Hadley revealed on his show the following day that Mr McCormack had backgrounded him against then leader Mr Joyce in the lead-up to the leadership contest.

"People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and it appears Mr McCormack you can give it but you can't take it," Mr Hadley told his listeners.

Yesterday Mr McCormack denied in Parliament he had misled the house about his previous statement.

The tension comes amid rising dissatisfaction with Mr McCormack over a plan to grant a new type of visa to agricultural workers for seasonal work on farms.

Kelly O'Dwyer looks towards Micheal McCormack who is frowning during Question Time

Neither Mr McCormack nor Mr Littleproud have been able to convince the party's Liberal coalition partners to enact the policy, which is a key demand of important rural constituents.

Nationals frontbencher Mr Broad is denying any leadership tension.

"The only people talking about it are the media," he told AM.

"Michael McCormack is a fantastic leader, a decent, hard-working family man."

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