This article titled “Barnaby Joyce quits as deputy prime minister and National party leader – live” was written by Christopher Knaus, for theguardian.com on Friday 23rd February 2018 09.21 Asia/Kolkata
The images from Armidale are trickling in.
A rather helpful offer to Joyce from Netflix. I’m sure he’ll be stoked.
The long-expected resignation
So, what did we learn from Barnaby Joyce’s press conference? Let’s recap:
- Joyce will resign as deputy prime minister and Nationals leader. He will stay on as member for New England.
- Joyce has referred a complaint of sexual harassment made against him to police. He says it is false and wants it properly investigated. He said the allegation was the final straw in a saga that has stretched over two weeks. Joyce said he could not possibly get up to speak at the dispatch box while that allegation was being investigated.
- Joyce has slammed the media’s intrusion into the life of his partner, Vikki Campion. He said he thought Australia was better than that. Not one of the “litany” of allegations against him have been proved, he said.
- Joyce has promised he will not snipe from the backbench. He’s writing a book and is expecting a baby, so has plenty to keep him occupied, he said.
- He wants his decision to act as a “circuit breaker” to end the public discussion about the saga.
Turnbull issues statement on Joyce
Malcolm Turnbull has just issued a statement on Joyce’s resignation. He thanked Joyce for his service and said the Coalition partnership was “undiminished”.
John McVeigh – the Queensland LNP MP who is currently regional development minister – will fill Joyce’s infrastructure and transport portfolio until the Nationals sort themselves out internally.
Here’s Turnbull’s formal statement in full:
The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP has announced that he will resign as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, effective 8am on Monday.
I thank Barnaby for his service as deputy prime minister and in his various ministerial roles in which he has been a fierce advocate for rural and regional Australia.
The Coalition between the Liberals and the Nationals is Australia’s most successful political partnership, having endured for more than 95 years.
This partnership is undiminished and will continue to deliver opportunity and security for all Australians.
Pending the Nationals’ election of a new leader and consequent ministerial changes, the Hon John McVeigh MP will act as minister for infrastructure and transport.
If you’re wondering who the Weatherboard Nine are, we have the answer.
Viewers at home may have been wondering at a bizarre phrase the outgoing Deputy PM seemed to throw out there at the end of his press conference. When asked what his legacy was, Joyce seemed to say: “I fought for the person in the weatherboard nine.
We can calm the speculation. He was saying “weatherboard and iron”. Here’s the proof. In this SMH interview from October 28 last year, Joyce was directly quoted as saying he wanted to “to give greater economic and personal advancement to the people in the weatherboard and iron in the regional towns.”
He continued: “I didn’t give a toss for where power comes from, but one of the greatest afflictions for people in the weatherboard and iron is they can’t afford power.”
Here’s the official Nationals account repeating it:
And a video where you can watch him say it himself, and spark the same confusion in the comments:
Joyce clearly intends to be using the phrase a metaphor for the rural poor, a figure of speech known as synecdoche, where a part of something (in this case the materials of cheap housing) is made to represent the whole.
Liberal MP Tony Pasin says the press conference was clearly difficult for Joyce. Pasin said he was shocked to watch it.
“It’s obviously a shock,” Pasin told Sky News. “Watching that press conference, make no mistake, that was a difficult exercise for Barnaby.”
He said the saga has been an ordeal and he’s glad it’s come to a head.
Pasin gives us some clue as to who may put their hand up for the Nationals leadership, now that Joyce is gone. He says the field will be similar to the field that stood for the deputy leader position in December. That field included resources minister, Matt Canavan.
Timeline of Joyce’s demise
Right, well. We expected it, eventually. But it’s still a huge development and a significant blow to the Coalition.
So, how on earth did it come to this? Is your head spinning?
- 7 February – Sydney’s Daily Telegraph breaks the story that Joyce is expecting a baby with Vikki Campion, a former staffer. Campion, a former journalist, began an affair with Joyce while she worked as his media adviser.
- 10 February – Joyce reveals that he and Campion lived in a rent-free apartment in Armidale provided by his friend Greg Maguire, a local businessman.
- 13 February – Pressure mounts over a job that Campion was given by Nationals colleague Matt Canavan, after she and Joyce began their relationship. Joyce declares it is above board because Campion was “not his partner” at the time.
- 14 February – A small group of Nationals MPs consider asking Joyce to resign as leader, but the movement fizzles.
- 15 February – Malcolm Turnbull announces that Joyce will be taking a week of leave, and will not become the acting Prime Minister while he is away. Hours later, he announces a ban on sex between ministers and staffers. He is scathing of Joyce’s relationship – calling it “a shocking error” that unleashed “a world of woe”.
- 16 February – Joyce immediately fires back and the Prime Minister and his deputy spend the day duelling through press conferences. Joyce calls Turnbull “inept”. Turnbull doubles down.
- 19 February – Nationals MP Michael McCormack, seen as a frontrunner to replace Joyce, refuses to rule out the possibility that he will one day challenge for the leadership. A Newspoll finds 65% of voters think Joyce should resign.
- 20 February – The West Australian branch of the Nationals call on Joyce to resign.
- 21 February – Joyce – still technically on leave – offers an exclusive interview where he tells the media to “move on” and respect the privacy of his unborn son.
- 22 February – Nationals MP Andrew Broad becomes the first federal MP to call for Joyce to step down as leader.
- 23 February – Another MP, Andrew Gee, withdraws support for Joyce and declares “all bets are off”, after the Daily Telegraph reports that Joyce has been hit by a sexual harassment claim.
The NSW Nationals have just released a statement, thanking Joyce for his service. The statement describes Joyce as a “staunch and uncompromising advocate” for regional Australians.
Here’s the full statement.
There we are. That’s the end of Joyce’s press conference.
Just to reiterate – Joyce is stepping down as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister, but will stay on as member for New England on the backbench.
He says he does not think the media should report on personal relationships in the future. He said the intrusion into in his partner Vikki Campion’s life was “just wrong”.
I apologise to Vikki, the idea, walking across the road as a pregnant lady and just being, you know, put under so much pressure. I mean, I thought that’s not who we are in Australia. That’s not the kind of people we are.
I’m the public figure, go after me. That’s what I get paid for but don’t go after private individuals. It’s just wrong. And always think of it when you see something like that on paper and you think it’s salacious, think: “What if that was me? My mother, my wife? How would I feel?”
Joyce is asked whether he takes any responsibility for the events in recent weeks. He says he takes responsibility “for them talking about you”, but little else.
Joyce says he was never made aware of the allegation of sexual harassment. He says he only heard of it in the “last day or so”.
I have never been made directly aware of that. It was only in the last day or so I was made directly aware. But there were rumours.
Joyce says he will remain in the seat of New England. He has no plans to remain as a minister. He’s writing a book and is expecting a baby, he says, so has a lot of things on his mind.
Will he refrain from sniping, like Tony Abbott promised he would?
No, I won’t snipe. I have a lot of things I need to do. I’m currently in the process of writing a book about precisely the people I was talking about and I want to make sure I get that concluded. I want to assist my colleagues where I can to keep their seats and also, quite naturally, in April, a baby will be born. I’ll have other things on my mind.
Joyce says he has referred the allegation of sexual harassment to police for investigation.
He says the entire episode and public intrusion into his life, and the life of his partner, Vikki Campion, has “got to stop”.
It’s incredibly important that there be a circuit-breaker, not just for the parliament, but more importantly, a circuit-breaker for Vikki, for my unborn child, my daughters and for Nat.
“This has got to stop. It’s not fair on them. It’s just completely and utterly unwarranted, the sort of observation that’s happened.”
Joyce to step down
Joyce confirms he will step down on Monday as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister.
He says it’s quite evident that he can’t go to the dispatch box (for question time) while allegations of sexual harassment are being investigated.
This current cacophony of issues has to be put aside, and I think it’s my responsibility to do my bit to make sure that happens.
Joyce says there needs to be “clear air”. He says there’s been a “litany of allegations”.
“I don’t believe any of them have been sustained,” he said.
He’s slamming the leaking and backgrounding, saying it will destroy the government.
Joyce is speaking now.
Can I say right from the start, this is never about me. It’s about the person in the weather board, something that manifestly expressed what the National party is about.
If you’ve just tuned into the Barnaby Joyce coverage today, it’s worth reading this report of the latest developments from my colleagues Paul Karp and Katharine Murphy.
Tim Fischer, former Nationals leader, has just appeared on Sky News. Fischer, who was John Howard’s deputy, was booked in by Sky to talk about gun control in the United States.
But, inevitably, the interview soon moves to Joyce’s future.
Fischer is asked how the party will recover from the weeks of damaging headlines.
“We’ve been written off before … I think as a courtesy let’s wait and see what the deputy prime minister has to say in just a few minutes time.
He says he doesn’t “dwell on day-to-day politics” in Australia anymore, but does feel for those who have been personally hurt in the saga.
Fischer won’t say if he’s been sought out for counsel.
He says the 24-hour media cycle is now relentless and unforgiving for politicians.
“The margins of error – one bad press conference and you’re burnt for weeks,” he said.
Derryn Hinch, the senator and human headline, reckons he’s got this picked.
We’re still 30 minutes away from the press conference, but the cameras are already set up and waiting for Joyce in Armidale.
The Nationals have been in lockdown for much of the morning.
I still don’t know for certain whether Joyce will stay or go. My best punt is 2pm is more likely to be a departure than a digging in.
The new allegation about sexual harassment – denied by the deputy prime minister – has been a blow. I’m told the complainant is a prominent person in West Australian regional affairs.
Senior members of the government appear unaware of what Joyce will say at 2pm. Christopher Pyne is currently on Sky News, in his regular slot with Richard Marles. Pyne said he was not aware of the nature of Joyce’s planned statement, but said “all eyes” would be on the press conference.
Indeed they will be, Christopher.
The ABC’s Lucy Barbour is reporting that Joyce’s chief of staff has called a meeting of his Canberra office staff for 1.30pm.
What’s changed in the past 48 hours?
Several developments have piled on the pressure for Joyce in recent days.
- Nationals MP Andrew Gee on Friday joined fellow National Andrew Broad in withdrawing support for Joyce. Gee issued a statement that “all bets are off” when it came to the leadership.
- The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that Joyce is the subject of a complaint of sexual harassment, made to the National party. Joyce has dismissed the report as “spurious and defamatory”. But the acting prime minister, Mathias Cormann, has said any allegations of sexual harassment are “very serious”.
- The decision of the deputy prime minister to give an exclusive interview to Fairfax Media, despite being on a week’s leave. Joyce used the interview to complain of being hounded out of his rent-free apartment and told us all to move on from the issue. His critics said the interview did nothing more than give new life to a story that was finally moving off the front pages.
- Malcolm Turnbull, who is in the United States, repeatedly failed to publicly back Joyce on Friday.
Barnaby Joyce expected to make announcement on his future
Hello and welcome,
We’re expecting big news from the Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce, at 2pm.
Joyce has scheduled a press conference in Armidale. Channel Nine caught up with him earlier today, and asked him whether he would remain Nationals leader. Joyce responded “Let’s do the presser”.
Fairfax Media has reported Joyce is “increasingly likely” to resign.
Needless to say, it’s all sounding rather ominous for Joyce.
Stay with us. We’ll take you through developments as soon as they happen.
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