Voters think Barnaby Joyce must quit amid 'push' to oust Nationals leader

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Barnaby Joyce, a member of the Australia Federal Senate, talks during an interview in Canberra, December 2, 2005.
Barnaby Joyce, a member of the Australia Federal Senate, talks during an interview in Canberra, December 2, 2005. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce must leave his position, according to a majority of voters. The new poll comes amid a reported “fresh push” to oust him.

Nationals MPs told The Australian that Joyce’s position was “untenable.” They reportedly demanded that he quit. “The right action to take is for the Deputy Prime Minister to stand down,” one Nationals MP reportedly said.

The report comes after what seemed to be a public war of words between Joyce and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. But Nationals MPs are not the only ones who want to see Joyce quit.

The latest Newspoll has found that 65 percent of a sample of 1,632 voters thought Joyce must resign from his position. A third of the sample said he must quit parliament.

Publication of the Newspoll comes after confirmation of Joyce’s marriage breakup. Joyce has four daughters with his former wife. Reports about his new relationship with 33-year-old former staffer Vikki Campion have also emerged. Campion is currently pregnant and is due to give birth in April.

The news appeared to have prompted some Nationals to consider moving against him as party leader. The basis was that it is unsustainable for a conservative party to have him remain as a figurehead. Liberal senator Ian Macdonald said on Saturday Joyce should spend time on the backbench, reports.

Turnbull has reacted to the news of Joyce’s new relationship, calling on the Nationals leader to consider his position after inflicting a “world of woe” on his family and his new partner. He also responded to the controversy by announcing a ban on ministers having sexual relationships with staff.

Joyce has been quick to accuse Turnbull of overstepping the mark. He described Turnbull's dressing down as “inept” and “unnecessary.”

But Turnbull appeared fine after his comments about the Nationals leader. “I think Australians wanted to hear their prime minister’s heartfelt views about these events, they wanted to know what I felt about them,” he told 60 Minutes.

The Aussie leader said he certainly felt that the values he expressed and the action he took would come with the overwhelming endorsement of Australians. He added that it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Joyce has taken a period of personal leave. The prime minister, on the other hand, is set to travel to the US for talks with Donald Trump.