Joyce takes leave
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is taking leave to deal with the “intense public focus” on his personal life and won’t stand in as the nation’s leader while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is away. Turnbull, who is heading to Washington next week, told Parliament yesterday that leave had been approved for the embattled Nationals leader from February 19 to 25. Joyce has been under fire over his acceptance of a rent-free apartment offered to him by businessman Greg Maguire and whether any rules have been broken in regard to jobs provided to his former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will be Acting Prime Minister during the period, as he is government leader in the Senate. Meanwhile, Turnbull yesterday banned sex between ministers and staff and rounded on his deputy for a “shocking error of judgment” by having an affair with Campion. Joyce and Campion are expecting a baby in April.