‘Women unhappy’: Barnaby’s big problem

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    Barnaby Joyce has sensationally noticed by a female colleague that his return to the leadership would go down like a lead balloon with women voters. News.com.au understands that Mr. Joyce is within one vote to reclaim the leadership amid rising speculation that there could be a move against Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at Monday’s party room meeting in Canberra.

    But there’s also a bloc of MPs who remain bitterly opposed to M.r Joyce returning to the leadership, leaving the door open to deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud to emerge as a compromise candidate or for a fizzer where nothing happens.

    RELATED: McCormack responds to talk of Barnaby leadership challenge

    RELATED: Barnaby says sexual harassment claim against him ‘not the truth.’

    Barnaby

    The former deputy prime minister resigned as leader three years ago after revelations of a relationship with a former staffer Vikki Campion and an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint that he strenuously denied. At the time, he declared he was standing aside to protect his new partner and his family after he left his first wife, Natalie Joyce,e and moved in with his new partner.

    His relationship with M.s Campion was one of the issues that sparked former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s infamous “bonk ban” against MPs having sex with staffers in their office. In an exclusive interview with news.com.au, Nationals MP Michelle Landry said that voters had a “gutful” leadership circus.

    But she also raised the prospect that some women within the party and the broader community would not cop Mr. Joyce’s rehabilitation as a leader. “I think that if he became leader again,n there would be women out there that would be unhappy with that,’’ M.s Landry said.

    “It’s destabilizing for everybody. Look, obviously,y there was a lot of feedback last time. He would have to tread carefully if he became a leader again because women weren’t happy. “There were women out there who made accusations, none of that was ever proven,n but I do knowthere ares women who would not be happy.”

    It is a matter of public record that Mr. Joyce faced a sexual harassment claim in 2018. He was not found by the investigation to have committed any offense due to insufficient evidence. Rural advocate Catherine Marriott has previously said she was “terrified” over what to do about the complaint but never explained in any detail what is related to or the incident she said it involved.

    “He was a very popular Ag Minister at that time, and I didn’t … I was … I’m just a little human against a big system, and I was terrified,” M.s Marriott told the 7.30 Report. At the time, M.r Joyce described the allegations against him as “spurious and defamatory”.

    “I’m not going to start going through it, but I can — I have an absolute clear recollection of everything from that day. I know the person very well. It is defamatory,y and I will leave it at that,” M.r Joyce said at the time. But M.r Joyce said he did not plan on suing M.s Marriott.

    “What happens with defamation laws is when wealthy people sue other wealthy people because they have a solicitor … I have tried that path before. All that happens is you get a huge bill,” he said. News.com.au has contacted M.r Joyce for a response to M.s Landry’s comments.

    M.s Landry said it was also distressing for Nationals staffers who could all lose their jobs if there was a leadership change. “Look, I think people are just sick of this. We are paid for a job to run the country. It’s not only about the leadership role. This is about (Nationals staff losing jobs. The average person doesn’t understand that,’’ she said.

    “I don’t understand why this is being done.” The magic number to force a vote on the Nationals leadership is 11 votes in the 21 substantial party roo,m and Mr. Joyce appears to have at least 10 votes. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told the ABC on Sunday night he was standing his ground.

    “I’ve got no-one having called me and said, ‘It’s on.’ I have had no-one say to me, ‘There is a spill afoot,’” he said. “Barnaby Joyce is doing a good job as a member for New England.” As Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains confined to the Lodge in Canberra under quarantine rules, leadership speculation is engulfing the Nationals.

    Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud is understood to have told colleagues he won’t challenge and won’t stand unless Michael McCormack quits. Victorian Nationals MP Bridget McKenzieledd the charge last wee,k raising concerns over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s embrace of a stricter climate change policy calling for exemptions for agriculture.

    Resources Minister Keith Pitt also warned the Prime Minister there was no agreement within the cabinet on moving to a net-zero by 2050 target but has traditionally been regarded as a supporter of Michael McCormack’s. “We have not committed to net-zero by 2050 — that would involve agreement from the National,s and that agreement has not been reached or sought,” M.r Pitt told the ABC radio. “What we’re not going to do is sign up to anything that’s going to cost regional jobs,” he said.

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