Defiant Joyce: 'I'm not going anywhere'

Defiant Joyce: 'I'm not going anywhere'


Politics
Barnaby Joyce is taking his first day of personal leave in the wake of a tumultuous week.

Barnaby Joyce is taking his first day of personal leave in the wake of a tumultuous week.

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"People are starting to see this as a witch hunt. I'm not going anywhere, I never would," Barnaby Joyce says.

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Barnaby Joyce says he's not going anywhere, blasting suggestions he should be ousted as Nationals leader as a "witch-hunt".

The deputy prime minister, who's taken personal leave after his affair with a former staffer was made public, also played down a phone hook-up betweens Nationals officials on Monday afternoon.

"I am humbled by the support in my electorate and in the community," he told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

"People are starting to see this as a witch hunt. I'm not going anywhere, I never would."

Mr Joyce said the phone hook-up was not an official meeting, reiterating the leader of the Nationals is decided by party MPs.

His NSW Nationals colleague Michael McCormack, who's been touted as a potential replacement, dodged multiple questions about the issue Monday, refusing six times to explicitly back Mr Joyce's leadership.

"There is no challenge at the moment ... he has the party's support," the minister told Sky News.

He also missed five opportunities to rule out a challenge at next Monday's Nationals party room meeting in Canberra.

"There is no spill, there is no vacancy, at the moment," Mr McCormack said.

He later added: "Of course I support Barnaby Joyce, he's our leader, he's been a very good leader."

A Newspoll published by The Australian on Monday found 65 per cent Australian voters believe Mr Joyce should quit as Nationals leader and either go to the backbench or quit politics.

Queensland Nationals MP Llew O'Brien said while some people were concerned about the crisis engulfing Mr Joyce, just as many, if not more, were supportive of him.

Asked if there was any chance Mr Joyce would be rolled as leader, Mr O'Brien told ABC radio, "Twenty-four hours is a long time in politics. I don't think there is."

The Wide Bay MP does not believe Mr Joyce should step down and would not be drawn on who he would vote for in the event of a leadership spill.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday said he could not say if the deputy prime minister would survive as Nationals leader after his affair with ex-staffer and now pregnant partner Vikki Campion. 33.

Speaking in London, Foreign Minister and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop said there had been "more than enough commentary" on Mr Joyce's situation and she wasn't going to add to it.

Australian Associated Press

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