‘Rock star’ Barn­aby ‘will not be rolled’

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - TOM MINEAR AND ROB HAR­RIS

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

Pic­ture: LYN­DON MECHIELSEN/THE AUS­TRALIAN

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce speaks with lo­cals at a pub in his home town of Tam­worth re­cently.

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