Sydney (February 24, 2018): Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister said on Friday he will resign as leader of his party after weeks of pressure over an affair with a staffer that brought him into open conflict with his premier and a new allegation of sexual harassment emerged.
Barnaby Joyce said he will step down on Monday as leader of the National party, the junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s centre-right coalition, after resisting earlier calls to quit over the affair with his former media secretary, with whom he is expecting a child.He will remain in parliament, safeguarding Turnbull’s shaky one-seat majority.
Joyce’s decision came after a falling-out with Turnbull, who is in the United States for meetings with President Donald Trump and who declined to leave him in charge while he is out of the country.
Turnbull called Joyce’s affair a “shocking error of judgment” last week, to which Joyce responded by calling Turnbull “inept”.Joyce, a practising Catholic, has been married for 24 years and has campaigned on family values. He said he decided to quit after the new allegation of sexual harassment emerged on Friday.
He denied any wrongdoing but acknowledged the allegation had hastened his decision.“I will say on Monday morning at the party room I will step down as the leader of the National Party and deputy leader of Australia,” Joyce said.
Joyce, whose support base rests in Australia’s traditionally conservative rural areas, wore his trademark Akubra bushman’s hat as he spoke to journalists in Armidale, the farming town he represents about 485 km (300 miles) northeast of Sydney.