Barnaby Joyce could be tapped on the shoulder as soon as today

Barnaby Joyce leaves House of Representatives. Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty Images.

  • Multiple reports say National Party MPs are considering approaching Barnaby Joyce about his leadership as the scandal over his personal life continues to plague the government.
  • Questions about Joyce’s use of taxpayer funds continue to be asked.

Barnaby Joyce’s leadership of the National Party and position as Deputy Prime Minister is hanging by a thread, with partyroom colleagues considering approaching him as early as today to ask him to stand aside, according to multiple reports.

The relentless focus on Joyce’s marriage breakdown and relationship with his former staffer Vikki Campion, who is pregnant, has consumed the government for a week now and senior Nationals figures have increasingly been calling for a resolution.

The Australian reported today that Joyce’s support among Nationals MPs has been crumbling, and that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had contacted at least one MP to check on Joyce’s standing.

The Australian Financial Review, meanwhile, reports “people at all levels of the Nationals [are] talking about dumping him in the belief his authority may be irreparably damaged.”

Joyce was being urged to take leave next week “at a minimum”, the Fin said.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which broke the story of Joyce’s affair last week, said senior figures in the government saw Joyce’s position as “untenable”.

The obvious replacements for Joyce, were he to resign, include veterans affairs minister Michael McCormack and former cabinet minister Darren Chester. The Nationals leadership brings automatic membership of cabinet and a salary in excess of $400,000.

Joyce has been facing a barrage of questions about his use of taxpayer funds in the period around his marriage breakdown, with Fairfax Media reporting yesterday that he spent 50 nights in Canberra when the parliament wasn’t sitting.

This follows the government’s troublesome response to potential breaches of the ministerial code of conduct which bars the appointment of partners to staffing positions. Turnbull’s office has had to defend Campion’s appointments to the offices of two other Nationals MPs after she stopped working for Joyce, saying that she was not recognised as Joyce’s “partner” at the time.

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