Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Barnaby Joyce announces resignation as Nationals leader, deputy PM

Barnaby Joyce announces resignation as Nationals leader, deputy PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a statement shortly after Joyce announced his decision, thanking him for being a "a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia", BBC reported.

"The leadership of the National Party is a matter for the National Party", Mr Turnbull said after repeatedly refusing to to endorse Mr Joyce for the role.

Joyce had resisted calls to resign as leader of the National Party and thus as deputy prime minister since news of his long-running affair with his media adviser, 33-year-old Vikki Campion, broke nearly two weeks ago.

Joyce is deputy prime minister because of a longstanding agreement between Turnbull's conservative Liberal Party and the Nationals. His decision to stand aside is the right decision for the National Party, the nation and most importantly his family.

Before news of the scandal broke this year, Joyce, who was born in Australia, had been attempting to rebuild his reputation, damaged when he was ruled ineligible to remain Parliament after discovering he was also a citizen of New Zealand because his father was born here.

"This has got to stop, it's not fair on them, it's just completely and utterly unwarranted".

Joyce said he has a lot of things he needed to do and want to help his colleagues keep their seats and spoke of his commitment to the people of New England.

Nationals president Larry Anthony has confirmed Joyce is the subject of a formal sexual harassment allegation lodged by a West Australian woman.

He said: "This is never about me".

Turnbull called Joyce's affair a "shocking error of judgment" last week, to which Joyce responded by calling Turnbull "inept".

The resignation may relieve some pressure on Turnbull, whose ruling Liberal-National coalition has slumped further behind in opinion polls amid the scandal.

Mr Joyce has been in the spotlight following revelations of his affair with his former adviser and now pregnant lover Vikki Campion and allegations he created a number of high-paying jobs for her.

Joyce had not always been re-elected to the House of Representatives after being forced to undergo a by-election because it was discovered he was disqualified because he held dual citizenship when he ran for election in 2016.

Mr Joyce had asked for the allegation to be referred to police, the spokesman said. "I am so humbled", he said.

It comes after Nationals MP Andrew Broad called for Mr Joyce to resign as party leader and go to the backbench yesterday afternoon.

Mr Turnbull is leading a delegation of Australian premiers, chief ministers and business executives with the aim of strengthening economic ties with the US.

Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack appears to be the frontrunner to replace Joyce as Nationals leader.

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