Barnaby Joyce succumbs to pressure and will go to backbench


Mr Joyce announced he would be stepping down as leader of the Nationals party at 2pm today, which has now sparked the question, who will be taking over?

Joyce told reporters in Armadale on Friday he would officially step down as leader of the Nationals, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport when the party room meets in Canberra on Monday morning.

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".

Mr Turnbull, who is visiting the United States, insisted that relations between his party and the Nationals remained strong.

Mr Joyce also took a swipe at "leakers" who shared stories about him and his affair and said the treatment of his family during the ordeal was "completely and utterly unwarranted". This has got to stop.

Nationals president Larry Anthony, the party's senior bureaucrat, said in a statement: "The party will greet this news with a heavy heart but we understand and respect his decision to stand down as leader".

Citing a "litany of allegations" which he said hold no water, Joyce described the sexual harassment complaint as "the straw that broke the camel's back".

"I think there is a big difference here, Barnaby is going from his own free will", Mr Hogan said.

"It is the view of the Parliamentary National Party of Western Australia that Mr Joyce's position as a Federal Leader is no longer tenable".

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There was plenty to make news in the speech - Joyce has been battling calls to resign for three weeks, after it was revealed he had an affair with his former media advisor and that they are now having a baby together.

"Australians deserve better. The secret Coalition agreement, dealing out positions in the Turnbull government, must be made public".

He was forced out of Parliament previous year and contested a byelection after discovering he was a dual New Zealand citizen and therefore had been constitutionally ineligible for election.

Joyce, however, said that while he will exit the Cabinet, he will not resign from the Parliament.

He had asked that the allegation, which he denies, be referred to the police.

Barnaby Joyce hopes his resignation from the Nationals leadership will be a circuit-breaker for the Australian Government after 16 days of scandal.

The crisis over Joyce, sparked by revelations in the Daily Telegraph of his affair of his former staffer and now pregnant partner Vikki Campion, has consumed and distracted the government, wiping out what promised to be a good start to the year.

But it appears the latest claim, which appears to have leaked from onside his party, became the tipping point that led to his decision. Turnbull explained Joyce was taking leave to consider his future.