Published: Sun, February 18, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Sex scandal opens rift in Australian coalition

Sex scandal opens rift in Australian coalition

The pair met at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices on Saturday to clear the air after their disagreement, the Daily Telegraph reported.

This followed Mr Turnbull's statement on Thursday that Mr Joyce's conduct had been "appalling" and marked a "shocking error of judgment".

Mr Pitt told the NewsMail on Monday he was more interested in working for his electorate.

The source requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak on the record, and would not give specific details of what was discussed.

'That's the general rule that I observed, ' he said. I thought the code of conduct as it stands it was a good code of conduct'.

The Senate passed a motion yesterday for Mr Joyce to resign, saying he had breached standards of behaviour expected of a minister. Until we get this issue off the front pages the government's just going to bleed.

Joyce has refused to resign from office, hitting out at critics, including Turnbull, whom he accused of causing further harm with "inept" comments on Friday.

Turnbull, whose coalition holds a razor-thin majority of just one seat, also called on Joyce to consider his position.

"I know there was great excitement in the media that there was some Coalition clash, there are no issues between the Liberal and National parties, at all".

HINKLER MP Keith Pitt has been named as one of three National Party MPs who were secretly devising a plan to try to oust embattled leader Barnaby Joyce earlier this week.

Mr Joyce leads the rural-based National Party, the junior partner in the centre-right government led by Mr Turnbull's Liberal Party, a political alliance that has existed since 1923.

"I believe they were in many instances inept, and most definitely in many instances unnecessary", Mr Joyce said on Friday.

'In regards to the National Party there is nothing we dislike more than implied intervention in the processes of the National Party'.

'The real issue is the bad hurt and humiliation that Barnaby, by his conduct, has visited on his wife, Natalie and their daughters and indeed, his new partner, ' Mr Turnbull said in Canberra.

But Mr Morrison said the comments were appropriate.

'It is not criticism of the National Party, indeed the sentiments that I expressed yesterday ... are quite consistent with those expressed by many members of the National Party itself'.

"I don't know how the prime minister and deputy prime minister can possibly fix the division and dysfunction that we've seen in recent weeks", she told reporters in Adelaide.

'If Turnbull wants to stay in government he can't fire Joyce but he can minimise his impact, and he's already doing that with his appointment of Mathias Cormann'.

"Mr Joyce's assistant minister Damian Drum confided the LNP was now in a "very hard situation" but that "(Mr Joyce) has earned the opportunity to see this through".

Turnbull announced that ministers "regardless of whether they are married or single, must not engage in sexual relations with staff".

"People [in the Nationals] are saying we're not going to have the media, the Labor Party, the Greens or even the Liberal Party tell the Nationals who our leader will be", Mr Drum said.

'Quite frankly, the way these two men are behaving, neither of them are fit for the high office they now hold, ' he said.

Turnbull also said he had not apologised to Joyce as "there is nothing to apologise for". Today, Mr Joyce had has declared war on Mr Turnbull.

"Australians have every reason to be angry and frustrated when the two most senior Australian leaders are not focused on anything other than their own jobs", Mr Shorten said.

Malcolm Turnbull insists he can continue working closely with Barnaby Joyce despite a public spat between the leaders of the two Coalition parties.

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