Scott Morrison ‘can’t stand’ Barnaby Joyce as new deputy Prime Minister doubles his backbench salary
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be forced to work closely with his new deputy to maintain his leadership, despite claims he ‘can’t stand’ Barnaby Joyce.
The new Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader reclaimed his role in a party leadership spill on Monday, more than three years after he was forced to resign from the job following a scandalous affair with his former staffer now partner Vikki Campion.
He was sworn in at Canberra’s Government House on Tuesday morning.
Mr Joyce’s extraordinary return to the frontbench will see his pay packet double from $211,500 a year to $433,575.
His comeback from the wilderness has also divided public opinion.
Sky News host Alan Jones was among the many media commentators who weighed into the conversation after a ‘rather tumultuous political day in Canberra’.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) will be forced to work closely with his new deputy to maintain his leadership, despite claims he ‘can’t stand’ Barnaby Joyce (right)
He says Mr Morrison must now face a new political reality following Michael McCormack’s exit as Nationals leader.
‘The true reality is that while Morrison is backing McCormack behind the scenes and can’t stand Barnaby Joyce, it’s Barnaby Joyce’s leadership that will paradoxically save the government and Scott Morrison’s prime ministership,’ Jones said on his program on Monday night.
Jones labelled Mr McCormack as a ‘dud’ while Mr Joyce had traction.
‘People in the bush love him,’ he added.
Publicly, Mr Morrison has welcomed the return of Mr Joyce to the role.
In a statement, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to ‘working closely together to ensure Australia continues its recovery from coronavirus and the recession it caused’.
Two years ago, Mr Joyce revealed he struggled to support his two families on his $211,000 salary following his demotion to the backbench and was slaughtering his own farm animals to help slash living costs.
‘It’s not that I’m not getting money, it’s just that it’s spread so thin,’ the father-of-six told News Corp at the time.
‘I’m on an incredibly good salary. I say it over and over again. Because otherwise people would say, ‘You’re full of it’.
‘You’re on $211,000 a year for God’s sake. I get that. But it’s not just for me. I split it, I cover all my responsibilities and then you live with what you’ve got left.
Barnaby Joyce was forced to step down as Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader following his affair with Vikki Campion (pictured together with eldest son Sebastian)
Mr Joyce acknowledged his faults and says he hopes to come back a better person following his extraordinary return to the frontbench.
The father of six, 54, claimed he did not expect to win a leadership ballot on Monday morning, adding: ‘If I thought it was going to happen I would have brought my hat.’
Asked whether he would try to overturn former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘bonk ban’ which prevents politicians having sex with their staff, he said: ‘I can’t and I won’t start telling other people how they should start thinking of other people.
‘I will try, always, to be the better person. I acknowledge my faults. I resigned, I’ve spent three years on the backbench. I don’t walk away from making sure that I can be a better person to do a better job.
‘And I’m reminded by that by the people that I love dearly – my four daughters and my two sons and Vikki.’
Alan Jones (pictured) says Mr Joyce’s leadership that will paradoxically save the federal government
Mr Joyce (centre with Nationals MP David Littleproud and Senator Bridget McKenzie) announced his leadership of the National Party in a press conference
Mr Joyce stepped down as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister in February 2018 when details of his relationship with Vikki Campion made national headlines
Mr Joyce was propelled back into leadership on Monday morning when Nationals leader Michael McCormack was overthrown in a party-room meeting after Joyce supporter Senator Matt Canavan moved a spill motion.
The spill – the third attempt to roll Mr McCormack in as many years – was prompted by growing disquiet over his lacklustre performance as Acting Prime Minister last week, when Mr Morrison was overseas.
But it came after long-running concerns that Mr McCormack was not cutting through in the Nationals’ regional heartlands amid fears that conservative voters would turn to One Nation or the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party.
Mr Morrison welcomed Mr Joyce’s election and thanked Mr McCormack for being a ‘tremendous bloke’.
Mr McCormack told reporters in Canberra on Monday that he respects the decision made by the National Party, and wishes Mr Joyce ‘all the best’.
‘I have been honoured to serve the National Party as its leader the past three years. I have been privileged and humbled to do that,’ he said, adding that he will now ‘take some time’ to think about his future.
‘I want to acknowledge the fact that this has been a democratic decision, and I accept that. This is the way politics is.’
Mr McCormack (pictueed) told reporters in Canberra on Monday that he respects the decision made by the National Party, and wishes Mr Joyce ‘all the best’
Barnaby Joyce dramatically reclaimed the leadership after a spill motion in the Nationals’ party room. Pictured with former staffer Vikki Campion and their baby
Barnaby Joyce sworn in as deputy prime minister after triumphing over Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership showdown
By Australian Associated Press
Barnaby Joyce has completed a stunning return as deputy prime minister less than three-and-a-half years after quitting in a cloud of scandal.
Mr Joyce was sworn in at Government House on Tuesday after defeating Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership spill.
Queensland senator Matt Canavan described the leadership switch as a restoration, not a revolution, and said Mr Joyce would be a loud, leading voice for rural Australians.
“There are a whole lot of Australians out there who feel ignored, who feel their views are derided sometimes, and Barnaby is their voice,” Senator Canavan told Nine.
“He fights for the issues that matter to those people; the defence of their job, the industries, the communities.”
After the ceremony, focus will turn to striking a new coalition agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and a looming ministerial reshuffle.
Former minister Bridget McKenzie, who oversaw the so-called sports rorts scheme, is expected to return to cabinet less than 18 months after being forced to resign for breaching ministerial standards.
The new deputy prime minister is expected to solidify the Nationals’ opposition to agreeing to a 2050 net zero carbon emissions target.
While that could cause further headaches for the government on the international stage, Mr Joyce said he would support what was best for regional Australia.
“It is not Barnaby policy – it’s Nationals policy. And Nationals policy is what I will be an advocate for,” he said.
Some female Nationals have raised concerns his return could damage the party’s electoral fortunes with women.
Mr Joyce quit under immense pressure after sexual harassment allegations he strenuously denied emerged during a wave of controversy.
His initial trouble was triggered after an explosive report revealed his now-partner Vikki Campion – with whom he had an affair while she worked in his office – was expecting the couple’s first child.
Retiring Queensland MP Ken O’Dowd, who voted for Mr Joyce, said women in both their electorates had forgiven him.
“He has apologised to everyone for that, and he is prepared to take it on the chin and get on with the job,” he told the ABC.
Victorian MP Anne Webster – a McCormack supporter – said time would tell if the leadership change would hurt the party’s standing with women.
WA Nationals leader Mia Davies, who was a vocal critic of Mr Joyce, said there were significant questions about his behaviour at the time.
Ms Davies said the spill showed the federal party was focused on internal matters over regional Australians.
“I’m very disappointed to see that there has been a leadership change,” the state opposition leader said.
Former Nationals federal president Larry Anthony said the party made a democratic choice to change leaders.
“He’s done time in the wilderness. It’s done. He suffered. He paid a price,” he told the ABC.
Mr Anthony believes voters in Queensland and west of the Great Dividing Range will welcome Mr Joyce’s return while Victoria and coastal areas could be different.
When asked why there was a spill in the middle of a pandemic, Mr McCormack said he ‘doesn’t know’.
‘You will have to ask the people who called on the spill today that question. [Australians] have been my focus this weekend as of course the rumblings and the murmurs of a spill were taking place here and elsewhere,’ he said.
‘I have always put those things aside and just got on with business as usual. Just got on with my job.’
Mr McCormack said he was proud to have worked alongside Mr Morrison through the Covid pandemic.
‘I regard him as a true leader of our nation… Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and I didn’t always agree on everything, but we got things done.’
Mr Joyce was effectively forced out as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister in February 2018 when details of his relationship with his former press secretary, Vikki Campion, made national headlines.
The affair prompted the introduction of the so-called ‘bonk ban’ in Federal Parliament to stop relationships between ministers and their staffers.
When news of the extra-marital affair broke, Mr Joyce was branded a hypocrite after he had said that same-sex marriage undermined ‘traditional marriage’.
Natalie Joyce (centre) and her daughters Bridgette, 22, Julia 20, Caroline, 19, and Odette 16
Mr Joyce, who has four daughters from his marriage of 24 years, has two sons with Ms Campion, Sebastian, three, and Thomas, two.
His ex-wife Natalie has said she was left heartbroken when she heard about the affair, and later said she had always been a single mum because Mr Joyce was frequently away.
In an interview with the Weekend Australian, she said their youngest daughter Odette would ‘not go near’ her own father when she was young.
‘Odette’s never known anything but politics. Every time he’d come home she actually wouldn’t go near him… She’s stand-offish because he wasn’t home. That’s really hard,’ she said.
Mr Joyce’s affair relationship was laid bare in a book by political insider Niki Savva, who wrote that Mr Joyce was spotted with Ms Campion at a doctor’s surgery for ‘scans’ in early 2017.
Meanwhile Ms Campion, who was hired by Mr Joyce in mid-2016, spoke frankly to her colleagues about her ‘closeness’ with the deputy prime minister, telling fellow government staff about the bushwalks they went on together.
Ms Savva, a former press secretary to ex-Treasurer Peter Costello, said: ‘She made no secret of her closeness to Joyce.
‘She would describe him as the loneliest man in Parliament.’
Mr Joyce’s return has raised fears that women voters will be turned away from the Coalition, which commentators say already has a ‘women problem’ after former staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Parliament House by a colleague and former attorney-general was accused of an historic rape which he denies.
Moderate Liberals also worry it will hamper climate action. Mr Morrison has been steadily moving towards a target of net zero emissions by 2050, a target that Mr Joyce has previously spoken out against in the belief it would harm regional jobs.
Ms Joyce (in green) competed at her first bodybuilding event in New South Wales in March 2020, to show off what commentators called her ‘revenge body’
On Monday, Mr Joyce said he would be guided by his party on whether to support a net zero target.
‘It is not Barnaby policy – it’s Nationals policy.
‘If the National Party room believes that the best deal for regional Australia is to make sure that we secure their jobs, is to make sure that we secure their industries, is to clearly understand, clearly understand the dynamics of an Australian economy as to opposed to a Danish one or a German one – if that’s the view of the National Party room, that’s the view that I’ll support,’ he said.
Mr Morrison is currently quarantining in The Lodge, in Canberra, after arriving back from the G7 summit in the UK.
Before the spill, the Prime Minister threw his support behind the incumbent.
‘I’ve got a wonderful partnership with Michael. We’ve worked very closely together and provided great stable leadership for Australia,’ he told 2GB radio.
Mr Joyce is considered not only a better communicator than Mr McCormack but a stronger parliamentary performer who will give the minor Coalition partner a higher profile leading up to the next election.
He is likely to push back against the Government embracing ambitious climate change targets, which Mr Morrison is under international pressure to adopt.
His appointment will also likely to lead to a reshuffle of Cabinet as Barnaby’s loyalists are rewarded with ministerial posts.
Mr Joyce was married and already the father of four daughters when he embarked on an affair with former staffer Vikki Campion (pictured)
Nationals whip Damian Drum confirmed the outcome of the leadership but did not reveal the vote tally, in line with National Party custom.
‘He has to go through a process now to be sworn in, to have all the conversations, to talk to the prime minister, and effectively get on with the job of representing our people,’ he told reporters at Parliament House.
Mr McCormack was asked during a brief press conference after the meeting what he told Nationals colleagues.
‘I said thank you for the great privilege of serving you,’ he told reporters.
A Liberal MP earlier said it would be ‘disastrous’ for the Prime Minister’s climate change plans if Mr Joyce were to become the Nationals leader again.
‘Barnaby doesn’t care about getting us to a position on the environment which is sensible. He will turn the issue into a vote loser for us,’ the MP said.
Before the spill, Mr Joyce downplayed the prospects of challenging for the Nationals leadership, but did not rule out running for the leadership.
‘I’ve read articles this weekend which are so far ahead of the show they’re entertaining but they’re just not correct,’ he told Network Seven.
Mr Joyce needed to secure at least 11 votes from the 21-strong team of Nationals sitting in the federal parliament.
Mr McCormack said rebels in the ranks would need to ‘blow me out’ because he would not be standing aside.
‘I will absolutely run,’ he told The Australian Financial Review.
‘I’m not a quitter, they’ll have to blow me out.’
Asked if Mr McCormack was doing a good job Mr Joyce said: ‘He is doing the best job he can’.
‘He is a good bloke and has been working as hard as he can.’
Mr Joyce’s last attempt to roll Mr McCormack in February 2020 ended in failure.
But it did result in Agriculture Minster David Littleproud – seen as a future leader – becoming the Nationals deputy leader.
On the policy front, some colleagues consider Mr McCormack as weak in pushing back against stronger climate action and a failure in claiming credit for infrastructure spending.
But the leadership rumblings appear far more personality-based.
Nationals frontbencher Darren Chester, a staunch supporter of Mr McCormack, said country voters were sick of the ‘bulldust’ around leadership tensions.
‘I’ve read the speculation and I’ve heard the speculation. I don’t think there’s even going to be a spill motion today and nor should there be,’ he told the ABC.
‘Michael McCormack is doing a very good job for our country, for regional Australia, in difficult circumstances.’
Mr Chester accused rebellious Nationals colleagues of ‘mischief-making’ by fuelling the speculation.
Mr Joyce’s last attempt to roll Mr McCormack (pictured) in February 2020 ended in failure