BARNABY Joyce has laid into the Prime Minister for his comments about his personal life, saying they were “inept”, “unnecessary” and “caused further harm”.
The relationship between the Nationals’ leader and his Liberal counterpart seems to have deteriorated, with Mr Joyce also told Malcolm Turnbull to butt out of his party’s internal politics, referring to Mr Turnbull’s comments that his deputy “had a lot to reflect on” in regards to his position as Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Joyce said the Prime Minister’s comments just “pulled the scab off, for everybody to have a look at”.
“I have to say in many instances that in many instances they caused further harm,” Mr Joyce said.
“I believe in many instances they were inept and most definitely unnecessary. The reason I say that, it because it was public knowledge what was being repeated.”
Mr Joyce also took another shot at Mr Turnbull’s “implied comments” about his leadership.
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“There is nothing we dislike more than implied intervention into the party process of the National Party,” Mr Joyce said.
“We are our own independent political unit, we make our own decisions, especially around those who are the office holders.
“Fair from assisting, it always locks people in, as they lock in behind the leader.”
On Thursday, Mr Turnbull deflect questions about whether his deputy should resign, saying “he has to consider his own position”.
He made the comments while announcing a ban on ministers and their staffers engaging in sexual relationships.
Mr Turnbull said the Deputy Prime Minister had inflicted “terrible hurt and humiliation” on “his wife Natalie, and his daughters, and indeed his new partner”.
“Barnaby made a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young women working in his office,” Mr Turnbull said.
“In doing so, he has set of a world off woe for those women and appalled all of us.
“Our hearts go out to them. It has been a dreadful thing for them to go through in the glare of publicity.”
Mr Joyce, rather than stepping up as Acting Prime Minister next week while Mr Turnbull is in the United states, the New England MP will begin a week of personal leave on Monday.