Two-thirds of Australians want deputy PM to resign over sex scandal-poll

The Australian High Court decision against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, right, has left Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition in the precarious position of a minority government. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018

Two-thirds of Australians want deputy PM to resign over sex scandal-poll

SYDNEY: Two-thirds of Australian voters want Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to resign following his extramarital affair with his former press secretary, a poll showed on Monday, adding pressure on a government already fractured by the scandal.
Joyce, a Catholic who campaigned on “family values” and who has been married for 24 years, refused to resign when it was made public he was expecting a child with his former staffer.
Some 65 percent of voters want Joyce to step down as leader of the rural-based National Party, the junior partner in the government led by the Liberal Party, The Australian newspaper’s Newspoll showed.
The Liberal-National coalition has existed since 1923, with the National leader usually taking on the deputy prime ministership.
The scandal has damaged the government’s re-election chances, according to Newspoll. The government, which has only a one-seat majority, now trails the main opposition Labour Party by a margin of 53-47 percent on a two-party basis.
The government must call an election by May 2019.
With mounting public pressure, Joyce sought to turn the tide of public opinion, giving a rare interview on Monday with the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, where he blamed public life for the breakdown of his marriage.
Joyce has began a highly unusual week-long leave of absence at the urging of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who will this week travel to Washington, which would have typically seen Joyce installed as acting prime minister. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will now be acting leader.
As well as alienating voters, the scandal has fractured the ruling conservative government, with Joyce last week publicly criticizing Turnbull for “causing further harm” through comments about his affair.
The scandal has prompted Turnbull to ban sexual relationships between ministers and their staff.
Turnbull and Joyce held urgent talks on Saturday. “We’ve put whatever tensions there were behind us,” Turnbull told a radio station in Melbourne on Monday.
However, Turnbull said there was no guarantee that Joyce would continue as deputy prime minister with the leadership decision in the hands of National Party lawmakers.
On Sunday, Australian media reported that senior National Party figures were openly canvassing constituents with a view to removing Joyce from the party leadership.


India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

Updated 18 August 2019

India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

  • There were violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured
  • India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed

SRINAGAR: Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured, two senior officials and eyewitnesses said.
In the past 24 hours, there has been a series of protests against New Delhi’s Aug. 5 revocation of the region’s autonomy. This followed an easing in curbs on movement on Saturday morning.
The state government has said that it has not imposed a curfew over the past two weeks, but on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks set up in the city in the past few hours. Security forces at some roadblocks have told residents there is a curfew.
Two senior government officials told Reuters that at least two dozen people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city on Saturday night.
Representatives in the Jammu and Kashmir government in Srinagar and the federal government in New Delhi did not immediately return calls asking about the latest clampdown or seeking an assessment of the number of injuries and clashes.
One of the official sources said that people pelted security forces with stones in around two dozen places across Srinagar. He said that the intensity of the stone pelting protests has increased over past few days.
The heavy overnight clashes took place mostly in Rainawari, Nowhetta and Gojwara areas of the old city where Indian troops fired tear smoke, chilly grenades and pellets to disperse protesters, eyewitnesses and officials said.
Chilly grenades contain very spicy chili pepper, and produce a major eye and skin irritant, as well as a pungent smell, when they are unleashed.
The officials, who declined to be identified because they aren’t supposed to talk to the media, said clashes also took place in other parts of the city including Soura, a hotbed of protests in the past two weeks.
A senior government official and hospital authorities at Srinagar’s main hospital said that at least 17 people came there with pellet injuries. They said 12 were discharged while five with grievous injuries were admitted.
The hospital officials and a police officer told Reuters that a 65-year-old man, Mohammad Ayub of Braripora, was admitted to the hospital after he had major breathing difficulties when tear gas and chilly grenades were fired in old city area on Saturday afternoon. He died in the hospital on Saturday night and has already been buried, they said.
Javed Ahmad, age 35 and from the wealthy Rajbagh area of Srinagar, was prevented from going to the old city early Sunday morning by paramilitary police at a barricade near the city center. “I had to visit my parents there. Troops had blocked the road with concertina wire. They asked me to go back as there was curfew in the area,” he said.
Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout and the state government said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. Internet and cell phones remain blocked in Kashmir.
More than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention, and some have been flown to prisons outside the state.
For 30 years in the part of Kashmir that it controls, India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.
The change will allow non-residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, and end the practice of reserving state government jobs for local residents.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said the measure is necessary to integrate Kashmir fully into India and speed up its development.