Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who resisted calls to resign over an affair with a former member of his staff, announced on Friday that he will step down after an allegation of sexual harassment.
Joyce, who is the leader of the conservative National Party, said at a press conference that he will step down on Monday morning as deputy prime minister and party leader. He intends to stay on as a member of parliament for New England.
“This is never about me,” Joyce said. “But to give these people in the weatherboard and iron, in those regional and small towns, the best opportunity, then this current cacophony of issues has to be put aside. And I think it’s my responsibility to do my bit to make sure that it happens.”
Joyce has gone through a turbulent period. He was removed from office in October 2017 when Australia’s High Court ruled that he, along with several other members of parliament, were invalidly elected because they unknowingly held a foreign citizenship.
After renouncing his citizenship of New Zealand, Joyce was re-elected in a by-election in December with nearly 65 percent of the vote. He returned to parliament and was sworn in a second time as deputy prime minister in the coalition headed by Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party.
Earlier this month, Joyce, who campaigned on family values, was reported to have had an affair with his former media secretary, who is now pregnant with his child. Joyce had announced in December that he and his wife, with whom he has four children, had separated after 24 years of marriage.
The deputy prime minister enjoyed broad support in his party and rejected calls to resign, but on Friday it was revealed that he had been accused of sexual harassment. Details about the complaint have not been released, but Joyce denied the allegation and asked for the matter to be reported to the police.
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