Barnaby Joyce: Scandal-hit Australia deputy PM to resign

(AUSTRALIA, LANKAPUVATH) –Barnaby Joyce says he will resign as Australia’s deputy prime minister following a politically damaging saga that began with his affair with a former staffer.

Joyce said he would step down on Monday as leader of the Nationals, the junior government partner.

Joyce had resisted calls to quit amid questions over whether he had breached ministerial rules.

He called his decision on Friday a “circuit-breaker”.

“This current cacophony of issues has to be put aside,” he told reporters.

Joyce is perhaps best-known for once threatening to kill Johnny Depp’s dogs over a quarantine violation, and for briefly losing his job over his New Zealand dual citizenship last year.

On Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked Joyce for being “a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia”.

The political scrutiny of Joyce has dominated Australian headlines for more than two weeks.

Last week, Turnbull publicly criticised Joyce’s “shocking error of judgement” and said ministers would be banned from having sex with their staff.

Joyce responded by calling Turnbull’s comments “inept” and “unnecessary”, but insisted the pair could still work together.

On Friday, Joyce again insisted that his relationship with his former media adviser, Vikki Campion, had not resulted in any breaches of standards at the time.

The veteran MP faced scrutiny over the timing of two jobs offered to Campion within his party last year, and whether he sought a gift of free housing from a businessman.

He has also vigorously denied a sexual harassment complaint that was made against him by another woman.

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