Less than 24 hours after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce appealed for privacy, for the media to “move on” after revelations of his extramarital affair, his name has once again been hauled into the headlines.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the National Party has received a formal sexual harassment complaint against its 50-year-old leader by an unidentified Western Australian woman.
The outlet quoted the party’s federal president, Larry Anthony, who confirmed a complaint had been received. He would not elaborate on the nature of the allegations.
“All complaints are taken seriously and treated with strict confidentiality and given due process,” Anthony said.
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Joyce is currently on personal leave from his parliamentary duties following revelations regarding the collapse of his 24-year marriage and his relationship with former press secretary, Vicki Campion. The pair are expecting a child together in April.
The harassment complaint reported today, was reportedly made after news of Joyce’s affair broke on February 7.
A spokesperson for Joyce told the outlet that the Member for New England “described the claims as spurious and defamatory.”
Joyce encouraged that the allegations be referred to and tested by police.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the harassment complaint was behind calls made earlier this week by the National Party’s Western Australian branch that Joyce stand down as the party’s federal leader.
“It is the view of the Parliamentary National Party of Western Australia that Mr Joyce’s position as federal leader is no longer tenable,” Nationals WA leader Mia Davies told media on Tuesday.
“Mr Joyce’s actions have caused pain for his family, but it is the ongoing damage Mr Joyce is causing The Nationals organisation that is of greatest concern to me as WA Leader.”
Victorian Nationals MP Andrew Broad echoed the sentiment on Thursday, and indicated he would raise the issue during a party-room meeting on Monday. Broad stopped short of saying he would push for a leadership spill, but told ABC radio he would call on the party to recognise that Joyce “needs some time out”.