Agencies

Ex-journalist elected Australia's new Deputy PM

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Canberra: Michael McCormack, a former regional newspaper editor, was elected as Australia's new Deputy Prime Minister on Monday.

He replaces Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals, the governing coalition's junior partner, reports the BBC.

Joyce stepped down on Friday following questions over his relationship with media adviser Vikki Campion, and an allegation sexual harassment by another woman. He called the latter complaint "spurious and defamatory".

As leader of the Nationals, he automatically becomes deputy to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - who heads the Liberal Party.

McCormack said Joyce had been an "outstanding leader", the BBC reported.

"His service to our party and to our nation will never be diminished. His legacy will endure," he told the media.

McCormack had attracted criticism over a controversial editorial he wrote 25 years ago as editor of the Daily Advertiser, a small newspaper based in the town of Wagga Wagga, in which he described homosexuality as "sordid".

"Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn't wipe out humanity, they're here to stay," he wrote in 1993.

McCormack has since apologised for the piece and said his views have changed.

Although long opposed to same-sex marriage, he voted in line with the majority of his constituents to support its legalisation in Australia last year.

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