The National Party could be ready to oust Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack as leader

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty ImagesNew Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) shakes hands with Deputy Premier Michael McCormack (L).

Australia’s governing Coalition appears on the brink of another party leadership challenge, with Nationals MPs reportedly considering ousting Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.

Fairfax Media reports that Queensland-based backers of former leader Barnaby Joyce believe they could have the numbers to force McCormack to call for a spill of the leadership of the party, the junior partner to the Liberal Party in government.

Joyce, who resigned in February after it was revealed he’d had an affair with a former staffer, and who later had his child, has said he is open to taking the top job but denied making calls for support.

Nationals MPs are reportedly unhappy with McCormack’s failure to connect with regional communities and fear a wipeout in Queensland at next year’s federal election.

Any challenge for the leadership would most likely occur next week but some are wary a move could be made as soon as today before Parliament rises for the week.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who has been canvassed as a future Nationals leader, says he doubts a spill will occur. If there is a challenge to McCormack, he says he won’t stand for the leadership.

It’s a political nightmare for the Coalition, which is still regrouping after Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as Prime Minister. The government is fighting to retain its one-seat majority in parliament at the Wentworth by-election on Saturday, in the seat vacated by Turnbull.

The SMH has more here.

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