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.
joyce, whose National Party rules alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals, has been front-page news in Australia for two weeks since it emerged he had left his wife of 24 years for his younger former media adviser, who is now expecting their baby boy.
The 50-year-old had insisted he would ride out the storm but his position became untenable .He also vigorously denied a sexual harassment complaint that was made against him by another woman.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has however thanked Joyce for being “a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia”, while insisting the Nationals-Liberal coalition was “undiminished” by the scandal. But Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten called it “fundamentally damaged” and accused Turnbull of “an atrocious lack of judgement”.