Update: David Littleproud has been elected leader of the National Party after successfully challenging Barnaby Joyce on May 30. More analysis to come.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce will be challenged when his party meets on Monday.
But Peter Dutton, former defence minister and leader of the conservatives in his party, will be elected Liberal leader unopposed. Former environment minister Sussan Ley is set to be deputy.
Joyce’s deputy, former agriculture minister David Littleproud, from Queensland, and backbencher Darren Chester, from Victoria have both announced they will run for the leadership of the Nationals.
The challenge comes despite the Nationals holding all their seats and gaining an extra senator at the election.
Joyce, who returned to the leadership last year, deposing Michael McCormack, is blamed by the Liberals for costing them some votes in the cities.
Teal candidates attacked their Liberal opponents on the ground that whatever their own views on climate change, they voted with Joyce.
Chester, an outspoken moderate in the Nationals, was dropped from the frontbench when Joyce regained the leadership.
In a weekend statement, Littleproud said: “I feel this is the appropriate time to put myself forward for my party room’s consideration as their leader.
"Ultimately, this is a decision on who will lead the Nationals to the 2025 election,”
It has been expected that Joyce may not contest the next election and might step down from the leadership during the term.
Ley, expected to be unopposed, is selling herself as being able to help rebuild support for the Liberals among women, many of whom deserted the party at the election.
“I understand the pressures women face across the nation,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I know the hurdles they overcome every day, managing home, family and career, all the while contributing to community.
"My own life experience as an outback pilot, shearer’s cook and farmer, earning three finance degrees while raising my children has seen me walk a mile in their shoes!”
Ley holds the regional NSW seat of Farrer.
Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.