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Former minister Darren Chester confirmed overnight he will stand against Joyce when the party meets in Canberra on Monday.
“We need to be honest with each other in the party room and take some responsibility for the Liberal losses in the city,” Chester, who was veteran affairs minister in the former Morrison government, said.
“How we develop our policies, deliver our message, and work with our Coalition partners in the future will determine whether we can return to government and deliver for regional communities.”
While the Nationals retained all 16 lower house seats in Saturday’s federal election, the Liberal Party lost many once-safe electorates in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with many falling to “teal” independents.
Some Liberals have blamed Joyce’s criticism of the Coalition’s net-zero carbon emissions target as damaging their chances in inner-city and suburban seats.
Nationals MPs expect former federal agriculture minister David Littleproud to also challenge for the leadership on Monday.
Meanwhile, Sussan Ley is seeking to become only the second female deputy leader of the Liberal party, with Peter Dutton to stand unopposed for party leader.
Liberal and Labor HQs tell two different stories