News National Barnaby Joyce still wants to be deputy PM
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Barnaby Joyce still wants to be deputy PM

Barnaby Joyce
Barnaby Joyce speaks to the press on February 16, 2018. Photo: Getty
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Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says he would still love to lead the Nationals and be Australia’s deputy prime minister.

Mr Joyce told Sky News on Monday he would be open to returning to the leadership roles – although he recognises that it is unlikely.

“I’d love to do those jobs if I was given the opportunity again but there’s no mechanism for that to happen,” he said.

Of course I’d take that job if I was given it again.

Mr Joyce resigned as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister in February, three weeks after news broke of his affair with a former staffer and the break-up of his marriage. He was replaced by Michael McCormack.

In April, Mr Joyce’s new partner, Vikki Campion, gave birth to the couple’s son, Sebastian.

In a paid interview with Channel Seven in June, Mr Joyce said he knew his time as deputy PM was limited after Ms Campion realised she was pregnant in mid-2017.

“I’ll be frank. I don’t believe in abortion. I knew at that point that I was going to lose my job as deputy prime minister,” Mr Joyce said.

However, he went on to contest a by-election triggered by his dual citizenship in December 2017. After his re-election, Mr Joyce announced he had separated from his wife, Natalie, the mother of his four daughters.

barnaby joyce deputy pm
Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion during their Channel Seven interview. Photo: AAP

Sebastian was born in April. Just over a month earlier, Mr Joyce had told the media that the paternity of Ms Campion’s child was “a grey area”. He said he planned to raise the child as his own.

In the Channel Seven interview, he described that as a crazy thing to say.

Publicity surrounding the couple’s affair sparked an audit by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority into expenses they had claimed.

Earlier this month, they were cleared of misuse of public funds. The IPEA found the spending was within the rules and a “substantial” increase in nights spent in Canberra in 2017 was justified by Mr Joyce’s schedule.

The IPEA noted that Mr Joyce had claimed 58 nights of travel allowance for stays in Canberra when parliament was not sitting in 2017. That was a “substantial change” from 12 nights claimed in each of 2015 and 2016.

But Mr Joyce said the increase was due to his ministerial duties, preparation for a presumed cabinet reshuffle and “citizenship issues” before he was ruled ineligible to sit in parliament.

Mr Joyce’s political memoir, Weatherboard & Iron: Politics, The Bush And Me, will be published in August. It is expected to cover much of his recent personal history.

In June, publisher New Holland said the autobiography would be a warts-and-all account that is “guaranteed not to disappoint”.

Of course I’d take that job if I was given it again.