'Joyce is still a human being': Nationals locking in behind Barnaby

17 February, 2018, 00:59 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • A man and a woman walk side by side

National Party MPs, who had just made a decision to keep supporting Joyce, immediately warned Turnbull against trying to "blast out" Joyce, accusing the prime minister of meddling with their party's leadership.

On Thursday, Turnbull banned government ministers from having sex with staff.

Mr Joyce today called the PM's remarks about the scandal threatening his career "inept" and "completely unnecessary", and said they caused "further harm" to himself, his family and his new partner.

The ABC agreed that it was a crisis and added that it "it is not clear how this damage can be repaired, with the Prime Minister yesterday voicing such damning comments about the Nationals leader and today Mr Joyce hitting back in similarly angry terms".

Mr Turnbull can not sack his deputy because it is up to the Nationals MPs to choose their leader under the coalition agreement.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said on Friday: "The way these two men are behaving, neither is fit for the high offices they now hold".

He implied that by holding a gun to the head of the Nationals, Turnbull had effectively strengthened the party's resolution not to be dictated to over who should lead it.

Mr. Joyce, 50, has been under enormous pressure since his affair with former media adviser Vikki Campion, 33, who is now pregnant with their child, became public last week.

Turnbull on said Joyce should "consider his own position, obviously".

A shocking error of judgement

"It always does the same thing in the National party - and I've been around this organisation for over a couple of decades - it locks people in", he said.

Turnbull said earlier Joyce would take a week's break next week, which avoids the need for him to fill in as acting prime minister during Turnbull's scheduled visit to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington next week.

Nationals sources have told 9NEWS Mr Joyce is now more determined to stay.

Veteran Liberal MP, and Tony Abbott backer, Kevin Andrews called it a "circus" that has to be resolved "one way or the other".

But Turnbull responded Thursday by banning his ministers from having sex with staff.

The Senate yesterday passed a motion for Joyce to resign over the affair, saying he had breached standards of behaviour expected of a minister.

But Mr Turnbull refused to order an investigation into the allegations.

Since news of the impending birth broke last week, Turnbull has supported Joyce and declined to comment on his personal circumstances out of respect for his estranged wife of 24 years and children.

Last month, Joyce declared it was "really important we understand that we are intricately linked to the commerce of the People's Republic of China" after his Turnbull ministerial colleague Concetta Fierravanti-Wells denounced Chinese aid projects in the Pacific.



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