Joyce Returns As Deputy Prime Minister Of Australia After Spill Win
SYDNEY — Barnaby Joyce has completed a stunning return as Australian deputy prime minister less than three-and-a-half years after quitting in a cloud of scandal.
After the ceremony, the focus will turn to strike 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.
Not everyone is happy with the appointment though. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeted “What has Australia come to? Here we are with a rolling crisis in quarantine and vaccine supply, and we now end up with this wild-eyed, policy illiterate as Australia’s Acting Prime Minister. For the national interest, this is beyond appalling.”
Member of Parliament Jason Clare tweeted “Scott Morrison is a control freak. Barnaby Joyce is a chaos agent.”
While that could cause further headaches for the government on the international stage, 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.
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 Minister of Parliament Ken O’Dowd, who voted for Joyce, said women in both their electorates had forgiven him.
“He has apologized to everyone for that, and he is prepared to take it on the chin and get on with the job,” he said.
Victorian MP Anne Webster — a McCormack supporter — said time would tell if the leadership change would hurt their standing with women.
West Australia Nationals leader Mia Davies, who was a vocal critic of Joyce, said there were significant questions about his behavior at the time.
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 said.
Anthony believes voters in Queensland and west of the Great Dividing Range will welcome Joyce’s return while Victoria and coastal areas could be different.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)