Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Barnaby Joyce set to quit as Nationals leader

Barnaby Joyce set to quit as Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce set to quit as Nationals leader
Melinda Barton | 23 February, 2018, 05:29

Australia's scandal-hit deputy leader Barnaby Joyce announced Friday he was quitting and moving to the backbench amid claims of sexual harassment and controversy over an affair with a now-pregnant former aide.

Joyce will hold a press conference at 2pm at his base in Armidale, after a fortnight of intense speculation regarding his leadership.

Senator Cormann is acting Prime Minister while Malcolm Turnbull is on a trip to the US.

Known for campaigning on strong family values, Mr Joyce announced he was separating from his wife of 24 years in December 2017.

Victorian backbencher Andrew Broad yesterday said Mr Joyce "needs to step down as leader of the National party".

In a separate matter, Mr Joyce is also the subject of a sexual harassment claim received by the Nationals.

Federal party director Ben Hindmarsh said the complaint would be taken seriously, treated with strict confidentiality and given due process.

He was forced to deny a sexual harassment allegation as "spurious and defamatory" on Thursday.

With Malcolm Turnbull in the USA and Mr Joyce on leave, Senator Cormann said any allegation of sexual harassment is very serious.

Mr Joyce had been under enormous pressure to stand down since an affair with former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion was revealed. However, Joyce has continually asserted his desire to stay on as the party leader and the nation's deputy PM.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese again called for Mr Joyce to resign, criticising his decision to do media interviews during a week of leave.