Australia’s Deputy Leader Takes Abrupt Vacation After Affair Revelation

Updated on

Barnaby Joyce probably feels like taking a holiday.

Australia’s deputy leader has been under siege for more than a week, with the nation’s front pages and evening news bulletins filled with revelations that he’s expecting a baby with his former media adviser after splitting with his wife of 24 years.

Barnaby Joyce

Photographer: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

Joyce, 50, was due to assume the role of Australia’s acting leader next week while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits Washington for talks with President Donald Trump. So when his boss announced in parliament Thursday that Joyce would instead be taking leave, rival lawmakers were fast to point out it looked like a quick fix to save face.

Labor leader Bill Shorten called it a “stunning vote of no confidence” in Joyce, who has been under pressure to resign and denies he’s breached parliamentary rules.

Read more about the scandal plaguing Australia’s government

The decision means Belgium-born Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will temporarily lead Australia next week. Joyce said Thursday he’s taking the leave because he wants “to support his family and partner after such intense public focus on personal matters.”

He remains the nation’s deputy leader -- for now.

(Updates with Joyce statement in final paragraph.)
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