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Australian deputy PM Barnaby Joyce resigns over affair with adviser

By Sara Shayanian
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Friday he would resign, amid a growing controversy surrounding an extramarital affair he had with an adviser. Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Friday he would resign, amid a growing controversy surrounding an extramarital affair he had with an adviser. Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Friday he will resign amid a scandal tied to an extramarital affair with a former adviser, who's now pregnant with his child.

Joyce said he intends to remain as a lawmaker but give up his major roles, including his leadership post atop the Australian Nationals Party. Briget McKenzie has been named as its acting leader.

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"I will continue to fight for the people in the weatherboard and iron, for the people on the peripheral and the small regional towns," Joyce said in a tweet. "I used my experience of these towns and my goal in life will always be to try to make their lives better."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was told of Joyce's resignation on Friday.

RELATED Australian PM lambasts deputy, bans sex between ministers, staff

Turnbull said Joyce made a "shocking error of judgement" by having an affair with media adviser Vikki Campion. Last week, the Australian leader banned Cabinet ministers from having sexual relationships with staffers.

Joyce called Turnball's remarks "inept" and "unnecessary."

Pressure for the 50-year-old Joyce to resign continued to grow after it was reported that an unidentified woman made a sexual harassment complaint against him -- which Joyce said was "the straw the breaks the camel's back."

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"I have asked that be referred to the police," Joyce told reporters Friday. "I've asked for the right of the person who's made the allegation and I've asked for my right of defense that be referred to the police."

"But it's quite evident that you can't go to the Despatch Box with issues like that surrounding you."

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