PATH CLEARED FOR MCCORMACK

Nationals MPs and Minister for Veterans Affairs Michael McCormack is set to become the deputy prime minister after fellow National David Littleproud pulled out of the race last night.

Littleproud has reportedly had the support of a number of MPs ($) loyal to Barnaby Joyce but evidently could not get over the line, bowing out after David Gillespie also withdrew his candidacy, leaving a clear run for McCormack.

A smooth transition of power may not end the scrutiny the party has faced over staffing in recent weeks, with Labor’s Penny Wong reportedly set to push Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials in estimates today over the details of Vikki Campion‘s moves from Joyce’s office to that of other ministers.

On Friday, the identity of the woman who had filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Joyce was revealed as former Western Australian Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott. In a statement, Marriott’s lawyers told the ABC the allegation was of “both sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct”. Joyce’s office has rejected the allegation as “spurious and defamatory”.

The leak of Marriott’s name has angered the National Farmers Federation, forcing Nationals MPs to go on the defensive with Andrew Broad suggesting Liberals may be to blame ($).

AN UNWELCOME WELCOME

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has invited US President Donald Trump to visit Australia. News Corp reports suggest the President could swing by if he attends an APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea in November.

The Australian Financial Review reports ($) that Australian representatives have left the US unsure whether the Trump administration will exempt Australian steel and aluminium exports from a sharp tariff expected to be unveiled soon. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo lobbied Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the issue during the visit.

TAX CUTS ON THE BRINK

The government’s ongoing push to slash the corporate tax rate is facing a second defeat, with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson writing in today’s Australian ($) that her senators will oppose the changes.

With opposition from Labor and the Greens already locked in, the Turnbull government will fall short of the numbers it needs to change the tax rates for companies with a turnover of more than $50 million from 30% to 25%.

While Hanson has been speaking up on tax cuts, she’s quietened down on the financial situation of the Senator who defected from her party. After Fraser Anning abandoned One Nation, Hanson vowed to challenge his eligibility to sit in Parliament in the High Court, citing a bankruptcy proceeding against Anning.

Not any more, though. “We’re not proceeding with that,” Hanson has declared.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT

“Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

That was soon-to-be deputy prime minister of Australia Michael McCormack writing in the local paper he edited in 1993. In the column, which is reproduced in full here, he also lashed out at “pompous critic Stuart Littlemore, who “had the gall” to criticise newspapers for gay-bashing on the ABC’s Media Watch.

“He ridiculed them for showing some moral backbone and condemning homosexuality,” wrote McCormack.

The Nationals MP has apologised for the comments and voted in support of marriage equality after his electorate supported it in the government’s postal survey.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Google, Facebook in sights of ACCC for harvesting users’ personal data ($)

Fears privatised visa system could see access to Australia ‘sold to highest bidder’

China sets stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The National Party will elect a new federal leader.

Canberra: A submission made to the High Court by the federal attorney-general in relations to the citizenship of Labor Senator Katy Gallagher is due to be released.

Perth: A parliamentary committee will take evidence on end-of-life choices in Western Australia.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Cutting payroll taxes will create more jobs than Turnbull’s plan — Pauline Hanson (The Australian $): “No one knows what companies will do with the additional cash if the legislation becomes law. Companies could pay down debt, ­increase shareholder returns (through increased dividends or share buybacks), lower prices or a combination of any of these.”

Playing nice in the White House, like talking down a menacing drunk in a bar — Phillip Coorey (Australian Financial Review $): “It has always been a balance between China and the US. This week was all about leaning towards the latter.”

Tony Abbott’s economic argument against immigration is flawed — Jessica Irvine (Sydney Morning Herald): “Evidence is mixed, but surveys tend to show only a small impact from immigration on the wages of local labour.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF FRIDAY

Joyce quits — and doubles the backbench trouble for Turnbull — Bernard Keane: “His departure creates a new problem for the Prime Minister, because Joyce is not leaving politics but only moving to the backbench, where he will be free to attack the government and freelance on policy issues in the same way that another former leader, Tony Abbott, has done, inflicting ongoing damage on Turnbull. Joyce also declined to rule out returning to the leadership in the future, in effect placing a question mark over whether any successor would be merely warming the chair for Joyce.”

Poll Bludger: according to the numbers, the Nats don’t need Joyce — William Bowe: “Beyond the confines of his own seat, the 2016 result illustrates the point that country voters, no less than city ones, are primarily guided by the party they would prefer to form government, and hence little concerned with the identity of the Nationals leader.”

Crikey Quiz: Fran Drescher or Karl Marx? — Meg Watson: “Fran Drescher is best known for her outlandish character, Fran Fine, on the ’90s sitcom The Nanny, but in recent years she’s gained attention for her calls for an economic revolution led by the proletariat.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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