The crisis inside the Federal Government has worsened, with Barnaby Joyce lashing out at Malcolm Turnbull.
- Barnaby Joyce says he will support the ban on sex between ministers and staffers
- But says Malcolm Turnbull’s comments about affair caused more hurt for his family
- Deputy PM wants to get Coalition “back on even keel”
An angry-sounding Mr Joyce has accused the PM of making things worse with comments he gave yesterday about the extramarital affair between Mr Joyce and his former staffer Vikki Campion.
Mr Joyce said the comments caused “further harm” to his family.
“Comments by the Prime Minister yesterday at his press conference … in many instances, they caused further harm. I believe they were in many instances inept and most definitely in many instances unnecessary,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister again refused to resign.
But his response to the Prime Minister has put more pressure on the Coalition and the Government.
Mr Joyce said he would work to improve his relationship with Mr Turnbull.
“I am intending to make sure that, like all relationships, this relationship gets back onto an even keel,” he said.
But it is not clear how this damage can be repaired, with the Prime Minister yesterday voicing such damning comments about the Nationals leader and today Mr Joyce hitting back in similarly angry terms.
Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.
The Government operates as a coalition between the Liberals and the much smaller National Party.
The dispute between Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce has jeopardised that.
Mr Joyce told the media the National Party resents being told what to do about its own leadership.
“In regards to the National Party there is nothing we dislike more than implied intervention into the processes of the National Party,” he said.
Nationals privately fuming at PM
Many in the Nationals believe Mr Turnbull’s remarks yesterday were aimed at forcing Mr Joyce out.
“I would not be making comments or implied comments about the leadership of the Liberal Party and we don’t expect to get implied comments about the leadership of the National Party,” Mr Joyce said.
Other Nationals are fuming at the situation, privately accusing the PM of having “no f***ing idea how the Nationals work”.
And one senior Liberal is also bewildered by Mr Turnbull’s comments on Mr Joyce yesterday, describing it as a dangerous move.
But while some in both parties have big concerns about Mr Turnbull’s approach, Mr Joyce’s provocative response this morning locks the two parties into a nasty stand-off against each other.
Mr Turnbull is in Tasmania and earlier said he had not spoken to Mr Joyce today.
He flies to the United States next week and yesterday announced to Parliament that Mr Joyce would not be acting PM because he would be on leave.
Liberal backbencher Kevin Andrews said Mr Turnbull should cancel his trip to sort out the differences with Mr Joyce.
He told Sky both men need to get together in a man-to-man fashion and said “otherwise this circus is just going to continue”.