Controversial Australian MP Barnaby Joyce returns as deputy Prime Minister after leadership contest

Barnaby Joyce.
Barnaby Joyce. Photo credit: Getty Images

Australian politician Barnaby Joyce is set to return as deputy Prime Minister after being re-elected leader of the National Party.

The controversial MP secured a majority of votes from the party's 21 federal lawmakers in a spill motion on Monday and will replace Michael McCormack.

"Barnaby Joyce has been elected leader of the National Party at a federal level and will therefore be going through the various situations that he has to go through," Damian Drum, a whip in the National Party, told reporters in Canberra.

It's the third time Joyce has served as deputy Prime Minister and is also a return to his former position as leader of the Nationals.

The National Party is currently part of Australia's coalition government, along with Scott Morrison's Liberal Party.

Joyce was forced to resign as both party leader and deputy Prime Minister in 2018 following revelations he had an affair with a former staffer.

He was also accused of sexual harassment - a charge he denied.

A party investigation into that accusation was unable to make a finding on the matter, citing insufficient evidence.

Joyce also made headlines when he briefly lost his parliamentary seat in 2017 after it came to light he held dual Australia-New Zealand citizenships and therefore wasn't eligible to hold office. In that case he renounced his New Zealand citizenship and won his seat back in a by-election a few months later.

McCormack said he was disappointed with the outcome of the vote but accepted his party's decision, ABC News reported.

When asked if he felt if his colleagues had betrayed him, McCormack said, "that's democracy".