Australia deputy leader quits Cabinet over harassment claim

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce resigns following extramarital affair scandal

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Friday he will resign as leader of his party and will move to the backbench after weeks of pressure over an extra-marital affair with his former media secretary.

A statement from Mr Turnbull's office said the Prime Minister thanks Mr Joyce for his service, and that the Coalition remains "Australia's most successful political partnership".

It was revealed that Mr Joyce and Ms Campion were living rent-free in an apartment provided by a businessman. This has got to stop.

Dr Drum said if Mr Joyce loses the support of the party's branches in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria it will be hard for the federal members to ignore.

Barnaby Joyce says sexual harassment allegations against him are false but they were the final straw that led him to resign.

The Deputy PM said there has been a "litany of allegations" none of which have been sustained.

Mr Joyce told reporters in Armidale today that he will throw open the leadership at a meeting in Canberra this Monday morning.

Last week Turnbull slammed Joyce for the "terrible hurt and humiliation" he had inflicted on his family and his new partner, saying his deputy had made "a shocking error of judgment" and "appalled all of us".

Speaking in Washington while on an official United States visit, Mr Turnbull declined the opportunity to throw his support behind his coalition partner, insisting the decision was a matter for the Nationals.

"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 nearly exclusively as an independent and only once or twice coming to the National Party room meetings".

Earlier this month, the former deputy prime minister had withstood a parliamentary vote Thursday that would have called for his firing after revelations of a relationship with a former staffer and a free-residence deal with a wealthy political donor.

Nationals federal MP Andrew Gee said on Friday that "until I have clarification regarding some of the issues about Barnaby, I won't be able to back him", adding that "all bets are off".

It is understood the agreement sets out priority policy areas, proposed major projects of interest to regional and rural areas, which portfolios the Nationals want on the frontbench and that the Nationals leader will be deputy prime minister.

Mr Turnbull explained that Mr Joyce was taking leave to consider his future.

Barnaby Joyce hopes his resignation from the Nationals leadership will be a circuit-breaker for the Australian Government after 16 days of scandal. "I'll have other things on my mind".

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