MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Friday criticized Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s remarks regarding the former’s affairs with a staff member, provoking further escalation of political crisis within the country’s government.
“Comments by the Prime Minister yesterday at his press conference … in many instances, they caused further harm. I believe they were in many instances inept and most definitely in many instances unnecessary,” Joyce was quoted as saying by the ABC broadcaster.
The deputy prime minister however noted that he would work on improving relations with Turnbull.
On Thursday, Turnbull introduced a ban on sexual relationship between ministers and their staffers amid the revelation that Joyce had an affair with his former press secretary Vikki Campion. Turnbull described Joyce’s behavior as “a shocking error of judgment” setting off “a world of woe” but resisted calls to demand the deputy prime minister’s resignation.
Turnbull’s government formed by center-right liberal and conservative parties, including the National Party of Australia led by Joyce, has been under fire over various issues for a long period of time. The situation got worse when the government lost its one-seat majority in the parliament following Australia’s High Court ruling to declare Joyce ineligible of holding a seat in parliament over his dual citizenship. Joyce managed to retain his seat after decisive victory in by-election in the Australian electoral division of New England.