The challenge could come as soon as next Monday. Source: John Grainger.
The challenge could come as soon as next Monday. Source: John Grainger.

IT'S ON: Barnaby to face leadership challenge

NATIONALS MP Andrew Broad says Barnaby Joyce should resign as party leader and go to the backbench.

He is the first federal Nationals MP to publicly call for the party leader to quit over his controversial affair with former staffer Vikki Campion.

"It is time he takes a step back," the member for Mallee told ABC radio on Thursday.

Mr Broad said he had a resolution from his Nationals branch calling on Mr Joyce to resign and he would take those views to a party room meeting in Canberra on Monday.

He added that Mr Joyce is not making sound judgment.

Andrew Broad at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Andrew Broad at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

Mr Broad said he doesn't want to replace Mr Joyce, but in the national interest, someone other than him should be leading the party.

Mr Joyce is currently on leave while Mathias Cormann has taken on his top job as Acting Prime Minister while Malcolm Turnbull is overseas in Washington DC with US President Donald Trump.

In a tweet this morning, Mr Broad quoted evangelical Christian preacher Billy Graham, who died overnight, linking his words to the leadership question currently facing the Nationals party room.

Quote from the late Billy Graham "'when wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost'' ... telling words for the Leadership of the National Party," Mr Broad tweeted.

 

It is the first time a Nationals MP has publicly turned on the beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister.

However, the National Party in Western Australia effectively told him to resign.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Mia Davies, the leader of the Nationals in WA said she had contacted Mr Joyce to tell him he was causing "ongoing damage" to the party and his position as Federal Leader was "no longer tenable".

"Mr Joyce's actions have caused pain for his family but it is the ongoing damage he is causing The Nationals organisation that is of greatest concern to me as WA Leader," Ms Davies said.

"The Nationals brand across Western Australia has suffered as a result of Mr Joyce's actions and he has become a distraction at both a Federal and State level.

"My parliamentary colleagues and I have urged Mr Joyce to consider his position as leader in the best interests of the federal party and state branches.

"It is the view of the Parliamentary National Party of Western Australia that Mr Joyce's position as a Federal Leader is no longer tenable."

Mr Joyce shot back in a statement to Sky News, pointing out WA didn't have any federal MPs and the eastern states, which had more "skin in the game", supported him.

"Thank you Mia for your correspondence," he said. "I acknowledge your concerns, however it should also be said that you don't have a Federal member of Parliament in the National Party of Australia, your last member spending time almost exclusively as an independent and only once or twice coming to the National Party room meetings.

"I also note, you are not in a Coalition in Western Australia and the WA Nats pride themselves on their ferocious independence.

"Therefore I find it surprising that a federal issue has so much momentum in the West when people in the east in the National Party have in the majority a different view - and to be quite frank, vastly more skin in the game."

And, the Deputy PM insisted his working relationship with Malcolm Turnbull was fine and said that Mr Turnbull had never directly asked him about the relationship with Ms Campion before it was revealed on the front page of The Daily Telegraph.

 

Barnaby Joyce says it’s time to move on. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian
Barnaby Joyce says it’s time to move on. Picture: Hollie Adams/The Australian

 

And even if the PM did ask him upfront, Mr Joyce admitted he probably would have lied.

"(The Prime Minister) never asked any direct questions and to be honest, if I believed it was private, I wouldn't have told him either," Mr Joyce said.

Ms Campion refused to be photographed during the interview and offered just one comment, saying that her son's middle names would be in honour of her two brothers.

"Their support has meant so much. They are the only people who knew," Ms Campion told Fairfax Media.

Despite circulating reports about her significant pay packet, the former journalist and media adviser denied she was earning up to $190,000 when she worked for cabinet minister Matt Canavan.

Ms Campion produced pay slips during the interview that showed she was paid about $133,000 a year in Mr Joyce's office, $138,000 in Senator Canavan's office, and $135,000 when she was employed under former chief whip Damian Drum.

The pair spoke together for the first time in an interview at their controversial rent-free home in Armidale, which was provided by Mr Joyce's wealthy businessman friend Greg Maguire.

Mr Joyce, who revealed the couple have only spent 14 nights in the apartment since January, said he wanted to conduct the interview there to show he wasn't living for free in a "palace".

"Mate, this is a bachelor's pad," Mr Joyce said.

Vikki Campion says her brothers have helped her cope. Picture: Adam Taylor
Vikki Campion says her brothers have helped her cope. Picture: Adam Taylor

The expecting parents will be moving out due to increased media scrutiny about a potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct putting the home's location in the spotlight.

When asked how he felt about becoming a father again, Mr Joyce said: "The one thing that has deeply annoyed me is that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children, and it's almost spoken about in the third person."

"I love my daughters. I have four beautiful daughters and I love them to death. And now I will have a son. I don't pick winners, I'm not gonna love one more than another, but I'm not going to love one less than another either.

"I don't want our child to grow up as some sort of public display. I have to stop it from the start. It's a fact we are having a child, it's a fact it's a boy, it's not more or less loved than any of my other children.

"I don't want to say have sympathy for me. I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they're having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there."

News Corp Australia

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