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February 12, 2016

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says The National Party will enter a new era of advocating for regional Australia, with the elevation of Barnaby Joyce to the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Chester also congratulated new Deputy Leader Senator Fiona Nash, who becomes the party’s first female elevated to a parliamentary leadership role.

Minister Joyce was elected unopposed in a leadership ballot in Canberra on Thursday. Senator Nash was elected as Deputy Leader from a field of seven candidates.

Mr Chester also paid tribute to outgoing leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, who announced his retirement on Thursday.

“Warren Truss will be remembered not just as a gentleman of Australian politics, but one of the most successful advocates for rural and regional Australia this nation has seen,” Mr Chester said.

“Warren has been instrumental in securing funding for major infrastructure projects in Gippsland that are going to help our region prosper into the future.

“He has also provided stability and leadership to The Nationals for more than eight years, and helped grow the number of Nationals representatives in the Parliament.”

Mr Chester said the elevation of Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash to the leadership team would be ‘good for Gippsland’.

“I am looking forward to continue working with Barnaby and Fiona. They have visited Gippsland a number of times and understand the challenges and opportunities facing rural and regional communities,” Mr Chester said.

“Our party is well-placed to influence Coalition policy to help bring about prosperity in regional areas.”

Mr Chester, the Assistant Minister for Defence, said he wasn’t disappointed on missing out on the Deputy Leader position, which was contested by seven National Party MPs.

“I nominated for the role of Deputy Leader because I believe I have the skills and expertise to make a contribution at senior level of party,” he said.

“But we are in the fortunate position that we have many talented people in the National Party and I fully support Fiona Nash in her new role.

“I’ve known Fiona for 15 years and have always had an excellent working relationship with her. She is a close friend.

“Fiona’s elevation to the role sends a great message to women in regional Australia that they can rise to the highest roles in community leadership and federal politics.”

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