BARNABY Joyce has announced he is resigning as the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the federal Nationals.
Mr Joyce made the announcement in Armidale at 2pm on Friday, confirming he will resign at the party-room meeting on Monday morning in Canberra.
”On Monday morning I will step down as the Leader of the Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. I would like to thank everyone for offering their support to me, especially the people of New England,” he said.
“I will continue to fight for the people in the weatherboard and iron, for the people on the peripheral and the small regional towns.
“I used my experience of these towns and my goal in life will always be to try to make their lives better.”
The Nationals response
The NSW Nationals have issued a statement to “acknowledge the service” of Barnaby Joyce after his resignation from the position of federal party leader and Deputy Prime Minister.
“The NSW Nationals acknowledge the service of outgoing federal leader Barnaby Joyce to the party and to regional Australia,” the statement says.
“Barnaby has been a staunch and uncompromising advocate for all regional Australians since entering parliament as a senator for Queensland in 2005.
“During his time in government from 2013, as Minister for Agriculture and later as Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby has overseen significant growth in the value of Australian agriculture and the return of primary industries to the centre of decision-making in the Australian government.
“As Deputy Prime Minister and leader of The Nationals, Barnaby has continued the strong legacy left by his predecessor Warren Truss and ensured that the millions of hardworking Australians who live outside our major cities actually get the say that they deserve and expect at the highest levels of government.
“The NSW Nationals look forward to continuing to work with Barnaby Joyce as he serves as member for New England.”
EMBATTLED Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will front media on Friday afternoon, amid mounting pressure on his leadership of the National Party.
The New England MP has called a press conference in Armidale for 2pm.
It comes amidst confirmation from the Nationals that the party has received a formal complaint involving an allegation of sexual harassment against the federal leader, and the fallout of Mr Joyce’s affair with former staffer Vikki Campion.
Mr Joyce took one week’s personal leave last Friday, to support his family.
Since then he has conducted numerous interviews with media, including inviting Fairfax Media into the Armidale townhouse he shares with Ms Campion.
It comes as the woman at the centre of the Barnaby Joyce bum-pinching scandal broke her silence, opening up to The Leader about the alleged incident.
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The Deputy Prime Minister has denied he pinched the woman’s bum at a Canberra pub, following the 2011 Rural Women’s Awards, saying he “completely rejected the allegation”.
The Leader has chosen not to publish the woman’s identity.
“I knew he was a senator and I saw he was behaving inappropriately for a senator,” she told The Leader.
The allegations followed confirmation Mr Joyce’s marriage had broken down and he was in a new relationship with Ms Campion. The couple are expecting a baby in April.
Questions have also since been raised around the timing of Mr Joyce and Ms Campion’s relationship, given her subsequent appointment to the office of Matt Canavan and then a new job was created for her as a media adviser in Damian Drum’s office.