Well, it’s finally happened — Barnaby Joyce has officially resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals party leader, following weeks of escalating scandals and unprecedented tension with the Prime Minister.
Honestly, we’re surprised he held on this long.
At a press conference this afternoon Joyce announced he was standing down to allow “clear air”.
“The current cacophony of issues has to be put aside,” Joyce said. “It’s my responsibility to do my bit to make sure that happens.”
“I have asked that that be referred to the police,” he said. “I’ve asked for the right of the person who’s made the allegation and I’ve asked for my right of defence that that be referred to the police. But it’s quite evident that you can’t go to the Despatch Box with issues like that surrounding you.
Joyce confirmed he would stay on as the member for New England, meaning he will spend his immediate future on the backbench.
Joyce’s resignation comes after Nationals MP Andrew Board yesterday called for his resignation and foreshadowed a leadership spill at next week’s Nationals party room meeting in Canberra.
Joyce had spent the past week on “holiday” in Armidale, though he made a number of media appearances, including a candid interview with his partner and former media advisor, Vikki Campion.
His resignation follows a hefty list of revelations hitting the media this month. First there was the news of his affair with Campion, which was slammed as pretty wildly hypocritical given the amount of time he spent banging on about the sanctity of marriage during the postal survey. Then there was the news that Campion had been given high-paid, unadvertised jobs in other MPs office, raising questions about whether taxpayer funds were used inappropriately.
And then there were all the other things: the revelation that Joyce and his partner have been living rent-free in a property owned by a businessman in his electorate, an allegation of sexual harassment against him (which he has strenuously denied), and the news that he used his $10,000 taxpayer-funded family reunion allowance while also conducting an affair.
Things have been tense with the PM too.Malcolm Turnbull held a tense presser last week where he slammed Barnaby’s bad decisions and poor judgement, and announced a ban preventing ministers from having sex with staffers as a result of Joyce’s actions. Turnbull stopped short of asking Joyce to resign, but it was still a pretty embarrassing public chiding.
All in all, a real bad fortnight for Barnaby, it’s pretty wild that he’s stuck it out this long.
More to come.