Australian deputy prime minister resigns after affair with staffer

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he decided to quit after an allegation of sexual harassment emerged on Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Australian deputy prime minister resigns after affair with staffer

SYDNEY: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Friday he will resign as leader of his party and will move to the backbench after weeks of pressure over an extra-marital affair with his former media secretary.
Joyce said he will step down on Monday as leader of the National party, the junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s center-right coalition. He will remain in parliament, safeguarding Turnbull’s shaky one-seat majority.
Joyce, a practicing Catholic, has been married for 24 years and has campaigned on family values but had been under sustained pressure to resign over an affair with his former staff member, who is carrying his child.
He said he decided to quit after an allegation of sexual harassment emerged on Friday. Joyce denied any wrongdoing.
“I will say on Monday morning at the party room I will step down as the leader of the National Party and deputy leader of Australia,” Joyce told reporters in Armidale, the rural town he represents about 485 kilometers northeast of Sydney.
National Party federal director Ben Hindmarsh said the party had received the sexual harassment allegation but declined to give any details.
A spokesman said Joyce had been made aware of the claim indirectly and believed it was “spurious and defamatory.” Joyce had asked for the allegation to be referred to police, the spokesman said.
The National Party will now elect a new leader, who will also become deputy prime minister under the terms of the coalition agreement with Turnbull’s Liberal party.


From ‘minga’ to ‘Maga’ — how the UN heard two world views

US President Donald Trump during a working luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, front, at the United Nations in New York Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 59 sec ago
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From ‘minga’ to ‘Maga’ — how the UN heard two world views

  • Trump had his own ideas for solving those very same problems, but they owed little to the minga philosophy

NEW YORK: The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Maria Espinosa, introduced the concept of “minga” to the packed audience at the organization’s HQ on East 44th Street in New York; but an hour later President Donald Trump had reasserted his own view of the world, under the “Maga” banner.
Opening the first day of the UN general debate — the centerpiece of the organization’s annual get together — Espinosa, from Ecuador, explained that minga was a principle by which the people of the Andes lived their lives. Its main tenet was the principle of living and working together in harmony for the betterment of all — an idea sure to win approval at the UN.
With minga the world could solve the big issues it faces, from gender inequality through the environment down to peace and security.
Trump had his own ideas for solving those very same problems, but they owed little to the minga philosophy. Instead, he saw the world through the prism of “strong independent nations” which together would advance the state of mankind.
And, as he made clear, the US was the leader of this band of nation, so his oft-declared amibition of “making America great again” (Maga) would bring the rest of the world along with it to greatness.
“Inside everyone listening here today is the heart of a patriot, filled with the passion that inspired reform and revolutions, economic good, technological progress and works of art. Sovereign independent nations are the only vehicles where freedom, democracy and peace have been enhanced. So we have to protect them,” the president explained.
Not everyone in the audience agreed with Trump’s unilateral view of the world, nor with America’s perceived role in it.
Before he had taken the podium — in presidential dark grey suit, white shirt and long red tie — the two previous speakers had stressed the traditional UN values of collectivism and multilateralism, and received warm applause from the delegates for doing so.
Two South American leaders, President Michel Timer of Brazil and President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, both talked about the challenges of multilateralism, and obliquely criticized the US over its long-running embargo of Cuba, as well as what they said was the role of American banks in dominating their economies, to the detriment of their people.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that multilateralism was “under fire exactly when we need it the most, and, in contrast to Trump’s later comments about trade deficits, explained that what the world was really suffering from was a “trust deficit”, which could sink the international order in a bloody quagmire similar to the First World War.
President Trump made light of such dire warnings. In fact, he was adamant that the future was good, with a booming US economy, strong stock markets, full employment, tax reform and increased see spending on the US military.
“In the two years of my presidency, we have seen more progress that almost any other administration in the history of this country,” he said. The delegates murmured in response.