‘Rock star’ Barnaby ‘will not be rolled’
THE plot to topple Barnaby Joyce has fallen apart, with the embattled Deputy Prime Minister staring down angry Nationals colleagues who want him to resign.
Nationals MPs last night said Mr Joyce would “undoubtedly” remain as leader for the time being.
Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie said Mr Joyce was a “rock star” in regional communities and that “100 per cent” of the calls her office received yesterday from voters were supportive of him.
Senator McKenzie, in her first public comments since Mr Joyce’s affair with former staffer Vikki Campion was revealed, gave her “absolute rolled-gold guarantee” he would remain in charge.
The Victorian senator said the idea of a delegation asking him to quit was “mystical”.
She accused other Nationals of “talking a big game to the media and not delivering”, adding: “Barnaby Joyce has the full support of the party. This is the reality.”
But one MP, who thinks Mr Joyce should go, blamed the “amateur” behaviour of colleagues who tried to force him out.
That MP said: “They squibbed it. It was amateur hour, to be honest. Talk of delegations before delegations
were even formed – it was laughable.”
Labor will today try to put pressure on the Prime Minister to sack Joyce by attempting to make the case that he is in breach of the ministerial code of conduct.
But some Nationals were angry at Liberal counterparts attempting to intervene in their party room.
Nationals backbencher Ken O’Dowd said yesterday morning that a group of colleagues were visiting Mr Joyce to discuss his future, and he hoped the leadership issue would be “resolved today or tomorrow”.
“He will probably need the advice and someone needs to tell him where the party stands at this stage, and it will be a cordial meeting,” he said.
But his Queensland colleague George Christensen – who sources suggested would “blow up” if Mr Joyce was replaced – hit out at Nationals MPs pushing for change and said only four or five wanted to get rid of their leader.
He confirmed individual MPs had voiced their concerns with Mr Joyce but dismissed suggestions of a delegation asking him to resign.
“Once again it is people talking about themselves down here rather than talking about the Australian public – and people hate that more than a sexual affair,” Mr Christensen said.
“People need to take a long hard look at themselves.”
BARNABY JOYCE HAS THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE PARTY. THIS IS THE REALITY DEPUTY NATIONALS LEADER BRIDGET MCKENZIE
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce speaks with locals at a pub in his home town of Tamworth recently.