Barnaby Joyce has resigned as Australia's deputy prime minister following almost two weeks of political infighting and media speculation after the disclosure by a newspaper of his affair with a staff member, who is having his baby.
For almost a fortnight the conservative leader of the National party, the junior coalition partner, rejected calls to resign despite claims that he was a hypocrite due to his advocacy of family values. He has also faced questions over his acceptance of rent-free accommodation from a wealthy supporter and the transfer of his new partner to government-paid jobs. He denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Joyce's decision to resign on Friday followed a new disclosure of a sexual harassment claim against him.
“This current cacophony of issues has to be put aside,” Mr Joyce said.
“On Monday… I will step down as leader of the National party and deputy prime minister.”
Mr Joyce said the sexual harassment allegation was the final straw, adding that he had referred the matter to the police and would defend himself. He criticised the “completely unwarranted” media focus on his relationship.
The loss of Mr Joyce, who remains popular in his electorate, is the latest challenge faced by the government led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
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