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24 February 2018, 07:05 | Nina Perez
Nationals MP Andrew Broad has publicly called on Barnaby Joyce to resign as party leader
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien, whose electorate takes in the northern Sunshine Coast, has paid tribute to the work of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Barnaby Joyce.
Joyce had resisted calls to resign as leader of the National Party and thus as deputy prime minister since news of his long-running affair with his media adviser, 33-year-old Vikki Campion, broke nearly two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Nationals MPs David Gillespie and Michael McCormack have expressed their desire to challenge for Joyce's position in the party. "I never tried to be anything else".
The affair had brought an apparent rift between Turnbull and Joyce. 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.
The under-fire Mr Joyce called a press conference in Armidale at 4pm NZT.
Mr Joyce told reporters that over the last half a month, there has been a litany of allegations. "I don't believe any of them have been sustained", Joyce said.
Joyce referred to leaking and backgrounding as damaging the government's prospects.
There have been several attempts to attach genuine public interest matters to the revelation, such as questions raised by the movement of Mr Joyce's partner around National Party ministerial office jobs, whether taxpayers funded the affair of the minister and the adviser, and the ethics of a business mate giving free accommodation to the pair.
"It's 100 years since Sir John Monash led Australian and American troops into battle, and ever since then Australians and Americans have fought side by side to defend our freedoms, to defend our shared values", Mr Turnbull said.
Thanking his supporters, he said: "I don't deserve the support that you've given me".
"I have a lot of things I need to do".
The outgoing deputy prime minister said he had only given notice of his resignation to Senator Mathias Cormann, who is filling in as acting prime minister while Turnbull is on a visit to the US.
"Barnaby Joyce has denied the allegation, but it's being investigated".
The scandal surrounding Mr Joyce dominated headlines for more than two weeks, overshadowing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's current trip to the United States.
It was revealed his former staffer Vikki Campion is pregnant with his child, and on Thursday the National party confirmed to Daily Mail Australia they had received a sexual harassment complaint regarding Mr Joyce from a Western Australian woman.
The embattled politician said he would remain in parliament and move to the back bench.
Yesterday's challenge marks the first time a Nationals MP has publicly turned on a Deputy Prime Minister.
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