Barnaby Joyce quits as Nationals leaders and deputy prime minister


Photo Barnaby Joyce, a populist from rural Australia and a critical member of Parliament's governing coalition, had admitted to an affair with a former staffer, who is now pregnant.

Barnaby Joyce has announced his resignation as Australia's deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals amid claims of sexual harassment and an affair with a former aide.

"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. "I never tried to be anything else".

The party is a junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government, which is headed by his Liberal Party.

A sexual harassment allegation is the newest black mark on Joyce's career.

Joyce's announcement of his resignation is the latest blow to Turnbull's government and comes after a year of political instability brought about by a constitutional crisis surrounding legislators with dual nationality.

Mr Joyce will remain in Parliament as a backbencher.

"I'd like to say that it's absolutely important, 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", Joyce said during his news conference.

"This current cacophony of issues has to be set aside", Joyce told reporters.

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"The office of Deputy Prime Minister is the second highest in the land, it requires character, and I believe he has failed that test", Mr Hastie said. The MP is now in a relationship with his former media adviser and the couple are expecting a child in the near future.

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

"One of the priorities that we have here ... is to ensure that our engagement is broader and deeper and goes beyond Washington, New York and Los Angeles and reaches into every part of the United States to create more opportunities for Australian investment and partnership in America", he said.

Australia's scandal-hit deputy leader Barnaby Joyce announced Friday he was quitting and moving to the backbench amid claims of sexual harassment and controversy over an affair with a now-pregnant former aide.

Mr McCormack said he had "grown" since making the comments, and hoped others "can do the same".

"He also told the media, "(It has been an) incredible privilege, that I'm so humbled by, to have been the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia". We were part of that, said Joyce.

Labor leader Bill Shorten today highlighted the secret Coalition deal between the Liberals and the Nationals which gives the Nationals that extraordinary power.

An avalanche of unfavourable yarns about the New England MP have made things very tough for him the past few days, so he chose to hang up his Deputy Prime Minister hat (but not his trusty Akubra, obviously).