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Australia's Deputy Prime Minister to Step Down After Sex Scandal

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister to Step Down After Sex Scandal

In the following months, Mr Joyce was described by his Nationals colleagues as becoming "a mess".

Mr Joyce, who as Nationals leader occupies the role of Deputy Prime Minister, is on a week's leave to sort out the personal crisis stemming from the collapse of his marriage and the pending arrival of a new baby with his former media adviser, Vicky Campion.

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? "I never tried to be anything else".

While he no longer held the agriculture portfolio when legislation cleared parliament, Joyce was behind the Australian government's Regional Investment Corporation which will be responsible for managing up to A$4 billion of regional loans. The Australian news media was reluctant to report on the relationship with the woman, Vikki Campion, until it was discovered that the couple were living rent-free in an apartment donated by a supporter.

Mr Joyce is from a large farming family that lived on a cattle and sheep property near the village of Woolbrook in his current seat.

Such was his popularity, Mr Joyce was returned in a landslide by-election victory last December.

Mr Joyce declined to discuss the allegation further.

When asked if he supported Mr Joyce in the leadership challenge, Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said he wouldn't be pre-empting discussions which may or may not occur on Monday.

Depp later referred to Joyce as looking like he was "inbred with a tomato".

The National Party will now elect a new leader, who will also become deputy prime minister under the terms of the coalition agreement with Turnbull's Liberal party.

Mr Joyce's leadership is under attack after it was revealed that he was expecting a child with his former staffer Vikki Campion.

Mr Turnbull said he would be reluctant to wade into the USA gun debate.

"One of the priorities that we have here ... is to ensure that our engagement is broader and deeper and goes beyond Washington, New York and Los Angeles and reaches into every part of the United States to create more opportunities for Australian investment and partnership in America", he said.

Joyce said it has been an incredible privilege to serve as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

The deputy prime minister said the 2011 sexual harassment allegation, which is the subject of a Nationals investigation, was the "final straw" which led to his decision to quit.

"As I said in my inaugural speech to Parliament in 2010: "I promise not to be silent when I ought to speak".

"The Coalition between the National party and the Liberal Party is strong and enduring", he said. As SBS notes, he will also lose his position as Infrastructure and Transport minister upon his move to the backbench. "The stand-off it invoked between the cabinet's two most senior figures now represents the gravest threat to the Coalition government since it was formed", the Herald editorial said.


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