UN­DER-FIRE Barn­aby Joyce is pre­par­ing to be act­ing prime min­is­ter next week af­ter sur­viv­ing pres­sure from within his party to quit his job.

The deputy prime min­is­ter’s re­la­tion­ship with his preg­nant part­ner Vikki Cam­pion raised con­cerns about the po­ten­tial mis­use of tax­payer funds af­ter she was shuf­fled around jobs in other se­nior MPs’ of­fices.

A rent-free town­house pro­vided to him by a busi­ness­man friend also be­came the sub­ject of La­bor ques­tions in par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

Mal­colm Turn­bull and se­nior Na­tion­als ex­pressed con­fi­dence in Mr Joyce, de­spite a hand­ful of Na­tion­als MPs ag­i­tat­ing for him to con­sider his fu­ture.

Mr Turn­bull reaf­firmed his deputy would act for him while he vis­ited the White House next week.

Na­tion­als deputy leader Brid­get McKen­zie was ef­fu­sive when asked about the leader’s fu­ture. “I’ll give you my solid, rolled-gold guar­an­tee here that come to­mor­row, come Fri­day, Barn­aby Joyce will be lead­ing the Na­tional party,” she told Sky News.

When asked if Mr Joyce’s ac­tions passed “the pub test”, Se­na­tor McKen­zie replied: “There’s a lot of peo­ple in the pubs who ac­tu­ally un­der­stand.”

Min­is­te­rial col­league Michael McCor­mack said he had not been sounded out by col­leagues about re­plac­ing Mr Joyce.

A group of about four or five Na­tion­als MPs is be­lieved to have tried to get Mr Joyce to re­sign, but they didn’t have the num­bers in the 21-mem­ber party room, while some Lib­eral MPs were also un­happy with Mr Joyce’s week-long scan­dal.

Mr Joyce de­nied breach­ing the min­is­te­rial code of con­duct, which says front­benchers can­not em­ploy close rel­a­tives or part­ners or get them work in other min­is­te­rial of­fices “with­out the prime min­is­ter’s ex­press ap­proval”. He ar­gued Ms Cam­pion was not his part­ner when she worked in his and Matt Cana­van’s of­fice.

La­bor also at­tacked Mr Joyce for liv­ing rent-free for six months in an Ar­mi­dale town­house be­long­ing to his friend, multi-mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Greg Maguire. Mr Joyce de­clared the town­house rent on his mem­bers’ in­ter­ests reg­is­ter even though he said he did not need to do so.

Barn­aby Joyce yes­ter­day

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