Barnaby Joyce: Australian deputy prime minister resigns amid string of sex scandals

Ivan Schwartz
February 24, 2018

On Tuesday, Mia Davies, leader of the National Party in Western Australia, said in a statement that her wing of the party no longer supported Joyce as federal leader and urged him to "consider his position" in relation to the best interests of the party.

"It's incredibly important that there be a circuit-breaker, not just for the Parliament, but more importantly, a circuit-breaker for Vikki, for my unborn child, my daughters and for Nat", he told reporters. It's just completely and utterly unwarranted, the sort of observation that's happened.

He said media reports that an unidentified woman had made a sexual harassment complaint against him was the "straw that breaks the camel's back".

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in Washington for talks with President Donald Trump, was aghast at Joyce's behavior, according to people who know him, and introduced a rule prohibiting sexual relations between ministers and their personal staff, a decision that tapped into the global #MeToo movement inspired by the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

But he opted to take leave.

Nationals MP Darren Chester says the men battling to replace Mr Joyce will need to "heal some divisions" after a bruising 16 days of pressure on the outgoing leader.

"He has a strong interest in the Bruce Highway and a keen understanding of the importance of Section D Cooroy to Curra, which I know he has highlighted to his cabinet colleagues".

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Earlier, he slammed the allegation, calling it "spurious and defamatory". He denied the allegations, and said he requested they be referred to police for investigation.

"But it's quite evident that you can't go to the Despatch Box with issues like that surrounding you".

The daily media headlines on the scandal have riveted the Australian public and sparked debate about workplace culture amid the global #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

The National Party will now elect a new leader, who will also become deputy prime minister under the terms of the coalition agreement with Turnbull's Liberal party.

"He has personal issues that he has to address snd he feels that he can not do that from the dispatch box", Mr Turnbull said outside Blair House in Washington DC.

Barnaby Joyce, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, speaks during a media conference in the town of Armidale, Australia, February 23, 2018.

Junior Nationals minister David Gillespie has indicated he would be a candidate for the vacancy, while reports said Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack had significant backing.

Other reports by GizPress

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