Published: Mon, February 19, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Aussie PM in damage control as sex scandal undermines deputy

Aussie PM in damage control as sex scandal undermines deputy

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he can "absolutely" continue working with his deputy after the pair met in a bid to avoid fracturing the coalition government amid the fallout from Mr Barnaby Joyce's extramarital affair with a former staff member. With federal parliament not sitting this week, the prime minister will travel to the USA this week for talks with president Donald Trump.

Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack - considered the most likely National lawmaker to replace Joyce - did not rule out a leadership challenge yesterday but said he didn't want to get "too far ahead of myself", the Sun-Herald reported.

The following day, Barnaby Joyce hit back, accusing Turnbull of being "inept and unnecessary" in his comments.

Having seen off the rebellion, and believing himself in a more stable position despite his private travails, Joyce then suffered the humiliation of Turnbull confirming publicly that he would not be acting prime minister as is the convention during this week's U.S. visit, with the government Senate leader, Matthias Cormann, performing the role.

On Thursday evening, Mr Turnbull used a press conference to pass moral judgment on Mr Joyce over his affair with Ms Campion, saying he had "appalled all of us".

Despite the continuing bad press, Mr Joyce said he has a "resolved" the issue with Prime Minister Turnbull.

In a long-scheduled appearance on Channel Nine's 60 Minutes, Mr and Mrs Turnbull opened up about their marriage, with the Prime Minister saying he could not do the job without his wife of 38 years. Both agreed to move forward in the national interest, a government source told AAP.

"If a member of parliament has something to say to another member of parliament he or she should knock on the door or pick up the phone".

Real Betis vs Real Madrid
It was no more than Betis deserved after recovering impressively from the disappointment of Asensio's early goal. Real Madrid then suffered a blow when left-back Marcelo pulled up with an injury and had to be substituted.

Turnbull and his wife Lucy were interviewed by 60 Minutes earlier this year - before news broke of Joyce's relationship with his former staffer, Vikki Campion.

"There was a perfectly good code of conduct in place", Mr Abbott said.

"Barnaby would have known it would derail the government's line, the government's focus and it really is giving Bill Shorten a free kick", Senator Macdonald told the ABC.

"Like most people in a strong business relationship, there are times you need to discuss your views because that's how you resolve things", Mr Joyce said in the interview published on Monday. "It's just got to end", he later told Fairfax media. "There's a massive question to answer".

Big Australian groups such IFM Investors, a $100 billion infrastructure fund led by chief executive Brett Himbury, will also be at the meetings to consider more investment in the US. "I base that confidence on the fact that hundreds of inquiries have been made and nothing has been found", he said.

However, hope remained for Mr Joyce with Nationals MP Michelle Landry telling The Australian that the Nationals leader had the support of the party room - "at this stage".

That information will decide whether anyone is courageous enough to force a spill at the next party room meeting, on Monday week.

Joyce returned fire on Friday, saying the comments had "caused further harm" and signalled he'd resist any attempts to force his resignation as Nationals leader.

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