D-DAY LOOMS FOR BARN­ABY

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - ROB HAR­RIS, TOM MINEAR AND JAMES CAMP­BELL

BARN­ABY Joyce’s sup­port in the Na­tion­als party room is in free fall as his col­leagues work out how they can re­place the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter.

It is un­der­stood Mr Joyce could be fin­ished as Na­tion­als leader as soon as to­day af­ter a week of rev­e­la­tions about his af­fair with his for­mer me­dia ad­viser Vikki Cam­pion.

Na­tion­als MPs said they had been in­un­dated with cor­re­spon­dence from an­gry vot­ers since the scan­dal broke and they were now work­ing on a plan to re­place him.

But those push­ing for change want to avoid a bloody coup and will in­stead try to per­suade him to “do the right thing”and re­sign.

Omi­nously for Mr Joyce, Na­tion­als MPs said he quickly los­ing his Queens­land sup­port base.

Dis­cus­sions were un­der way last night about form­ing a del­e­ga­tion to con­front the em­bat­tled leader af­ter some Na­tion­als tried un­suc­cess­fully to speak to him one-on-one about his po­si­tion ear­lier this week.

As pub­lic pres­sure mounted, Mr Joyce’s pre­de­ces­sor War­ren Truss made a sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­ven­tion, telling the ABC he had “un­doubt­edly been di­min­ished” by the af­fair and the is­sue needed to be re­solved quickly.

While the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter’s po­si­tion was de- teri­o­rat­ing, he still had some sup­port in the party room, with one MP de­scrib­ing those want­ing him gone as “ut­terly self­ish op­por­tunists”.

To avoid the bit­ter­ness of a coup, Na­tion­als want­ing a change are push­ing for an or­derly tran­si­tion to a new leader, with Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Min­is­ter Michael McCor­mack the over­whelm­ing favourite.

Mr Joyce apol­o­gised to his Coali­tion col­leagues yes­ter­day morn­ing, telling them “every po­lit­i­cal ca­reer has a time of trial” and he was de­ter­mined to work through it.

One MP said: “(Mr Joyce) has never been some­one who gives in eas­ily. He’s wanted this job all his life and he won’t go lightly.”

A Lib­eral MP close to Mal­colm Turn­bull said the Prime Min­is­ter was deeply un­im­pressed with Mr Joyce’s be­hav­iour.

“What peo­ple for­get about Mal­colm is he is a lit­tle bit pi­ous — he doesn’t like this sort of thing,” the MP said.

It is un­der­stood a hand­ful of MPs vis­ited Mr McCor­mack in his min­is­te­rial of­fice yes­ter­day.

He has strong sup­port across the party in three states and was the pre­ferred can­di­date of sev­eral MPs — called the “any­body but Barn­aby group” — when Mr Joyce first be­came leader.

Sources close to Mr McCor­mack said it would not be in his char­ac­ter to chal­lenge and he would likely only ac­cept the job if Mr Joyce re­signed.

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