Video: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responds to questions about Barnaby Joyce from Washington
Malcolm Turnbull has commended Barnaby Joyce’s decision to resign as Deputy Prime Minister, saying it was the “right decision” for the Nationals leader and his party.
- Barnaby Joyce’s resignation will become effective at 8:00am on Monday morning
- More than a week ago Malcolm Turnbull recommended Barnaby Joyce consider his future
- Coalition between Nationals and LNP strong and enduring, PM says
Speaking in Washington DC, hours before a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump, Mr Turnbull said he had received a letter from Mr Joyce confirming his resignation.
“This is really a very personal matter for Barnaby. He has to deal, as he said, with some personal issues, he’s got to deal with a complaint that’s been made about him and as he said he believes he cannot do that from the despatch box,” Mr Turnbull told reporters outside Blair House where he is staying.
“I think he’s taken the right decision and the judgment he’s made in resigning is the right one for himself and his family and, as I said, we thank him for his service and look forward to working with his successor.”
Mr Joyce’s resignation will become effective at 8:00am on Monday morning when the 21 Nationals convene to elect a new leader.
Among the likely contenders are Riverina MP Michael McCormack (NSW), fellow NSW MP David Gillespie and Queensland Senator and Cabinet minister Matt Canavan.
One-time Cabinet minister Darren Chester, who was dumped from the frontbench by Mr Joyce in December’s reshuffle, will not contest the leadership ballot and will swing behind Mr McCormack as leader and Bridget McKenzie as deputy.
It is more than a week since Mr Turnbull criticised Mr Joyce’s conduct and recommended he consider his future.
Mr Joyce has been the subject of considerable attention since it was revealed he had left his wife and mother of his four daughters for a former staffer, Vikki Campion, now pregnant with a son.
“I want to thank him for his service as a minister, as Deputy Prime Minister, over our years in Government,” Mr Turnbull said.
He emphasised his differences with Mr Joyce were not a reflection of the partnership between the Nationals and the Liberals.
“I want to say that the coalition between the National Party and the Liberal Party is strong and enduring,” he said.
“The issues that have been subject of public discussion over the last two weeks have not been issues between the Nationals and Liberals — we have a 95-year-old political alliance, the longest in Australian history and it is absolutely enduring and I look forward now, obviously, to working with the new leader of the National Party who will be elected on Monday.”
Mr Turnbull said Mr Joyce’s resignation from the leadership was unrelated to his criticism of his deputy’s behaviour.
“Barnaby made his own decision to take leave to reflect on circumstances and deal with personal matters,” Mr Turnbull said.
He bristled at a suggestion that the episode had left bad blood between the Nationals and the Liberals.
“You may well assert that, but I do not accept that or agree with that,” he said.