PM bans sexual relationships between ministers and staff
UPDATE: PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled Barnaby Joyce's actions a grave error of judgement and announced he will change the ministerial code of conduct to make it clear ministers cannot have sexual relationships with staff members.
Mr Turnbull announced in a press conference he had urged Joyce to take leave next week to reflect.
He said ministers would be sacked for having sex with staff members under the new rules.
"I think we know that the real issue is the terrible hurt and humiliation that Barnaby by his conduct has visited on his wife Natalie and their daughters, and indeed his new partner," Mr Turnbull said.
"Barnaby made a shocking error of judgement, having an affair with a young woman working in his office.
"In doing so, he has set off a world of woe."
Watch his conference:
LIVE now making a statement from Parliament House https://t.co/JGgQXBtFAn— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) February 15, 2018
EARLIER: BARNABY Joyce has been dumped as Acting Prime Minister next week in a dramatic demonstration Malcolm Turnbull has doubts about his role as his deputy.
"The Deputy Prime Minister is on leave next week," the Prime Minister told Parliament.
The overturning of usual practice when the head of government is absent is a clear indication of the prospect of substantial embarrassment were Mr Joyce to take the job.
In further evidence of his precarious position, the Senate later passed a motion calling for him to resign. The motion had no force and was essentially a record of majority sentiment towards him.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale moved the motion, calling on Mr Joyce to resign for "clearly breaching the standards required of ministers" and if he does not, urging the National Party to sack him. The motion passed the Senate at 35-29 with the support of Labor, the two Nick Xenophon Team senators and independent Derryn Hinch.
It marks a further fall from grace for Mr Joyce, who was due to take over the Acting Prime Minister position next week when Mr Turnbull meets with Donald Trump in Washington.
The position was to go to the Nationals Leader amid uproar over his marriage breakup and relationship with a pregnant former staff member, but instead he will now take a break.
The fill-in PM will now be Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann, Mr Turnbull announced.
The usual second candidate, Deputy Liberal Leader and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will be on overseas visits.
The move, in effect a demotion of Mr Joyce, was announced as the Labor Opposition made it clear it would pursue him over claims he had breached ministerial standards in accepting accommodation in Armidale from a businessman friend.
Mr Joyce told Parliament he was not aware his administration had made a $5000 payment to Armidale businessman Greg Maguire, who had given the Nationals leader free accommodation when Mr Joyce's marriage collapsed.
"I have to admit I was unaware of that $5000 payment," he said.
The issue of Mr Joyce moving from a central role in a controversy to the job of Acting Prime Minister was discussed over a week, with the Deputy Prime Minister refusing to budge.
It is understood he only relented today.
Mr Joyce said he would check details and return with an answer on notice, but Labor's shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfuss pressed further.
He asked: "How can the Deputy Prime Minister claim he was unaware of the payment of more than $5000 of taxpayers' money to a business owned by Mr Greg Maguire when the payment was made for an event at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse in Armidale, and the Deputy Prime Minister personally attended many in front of more than 80 witnesses?
"How can the Deputy Prime Minister say he didn't know when more than 80 people saw him there?"
And he said: "Would the Deputy Prime Minister advise the House whether he or his office played any role in selecting his close friend's business to receive more than $5000 in taxpayers' money, or is the House meant to believe that it was just an extraordinary coincidence that an agency under his administration chose a venue owned by his close friend, out of all the venues in daily?"
Mr Turnbull told Parliament Mr Joyce had given him "unequivocal assurances that he has been scrupulous in ensuring the legitimacy and accuracy for any claim for entitlement to ministerial or parliamentary travel allowance.
"If the members opposite wish to assert that he has breached a clause in the ministerial standards, then they should say so and identify the clause," he said.