Barnaby gets the boot
Overlooked as acting PM; Turnbull announces sex ban for MPs
BARNABY Joyce has been dumped as Acting Prime Minister next week in a dramatic demonstration Malcolm Turnbull has doubts about his role as his deputy.
“The Deputy Prime Minister is on leave next week,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Parliament.
That news was followed by Mr Turnbull announcing a change to the ministerial code of conduct that will ban sexual relations between MPs and their staff.
He said the move was prompted by Mr Joyce’s “shocking error of judgment” in having an affair with his former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion.
“I have today added to the standards the very clear and unequivocal provision that ministers, regardless of whether they are married or single, must not engage in sexual relations with a staff member,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
“Doing so will constitute a breach of the standards.”
Asked why his deputy had not been urged to resign, Mr Turnbull said Mr Joyce had to “consider his own position” as he undertook leave next week.
The overturning of usual practice of the deputy prime minister taking over when the head of government is absent is a clear indication of the prospect of substantial embarrassment were Mr Joyce to take the job.
Mr Joyce was due to take over when Mr Turnbull meets with US President Donald Trump in Washington.
The fill-in PM will be Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann, Mr Turnbull said.
The usual second candidate, Deputy Liberal leader and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will be overseas.
The move was announced as the Labor Opposition made it clear it would pursue Mr Joyce over claims he breached standards in accepting accommodation in Armidale from a businessman friend.
Mr Joyce told Parliament he was not aware his administration had made a $5000 payment to Armidale businessman Greg Maguire, who had given the Nationals leader free accommodation when Mr Joyce’s marriage collapsed.