Barnaby not budging on calls to stand down

Barnaby Joyce is running unfazed into another parliamentary week insisting he has the right to be deputy prime minister while the High Court decides his fate.


Labor is expected to disrupt business in the lower house until the Nationals leader steps down from cabinet or the court makes its ruling.

But after a morning run around Parliament House on Monday, Mr Joyce argued the tactics aren’t helping the opposition’s standing with voters.

“(They) want us to get on with the main game,” he told reporters.

“They’re talking about power prices, they’re talking about jobs.”

Mr Joyce again asserted he would have stood down from his ministerial position if the government hadn’t received strong advice from the solicitor-general.

“You hold office until such time as death or you resign or the High Court finds otherwise,” he said.

“Now everyone says that. Nick Xenophon says that. I heard Pauline Hanson say that.”

Asked whether he would be acting prime minister when Malcolm Turnbull heads to the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa at the end of the week, Mr Joyce said: “That’s how the game works. The PM always has that right.”

Labor argues there’s no way the Nationals leader should be acting prime minister while his eligibility is in doubt.

The Greens also want Mr Joyce to stand down, tying the issue to the proposed Adani mine in Queensland.

“A minister who’s under a legal question mark should not be making decisions to give a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to companies under a legal question to light a fuse on a climate time bomb,” MP Adam Bandt said.

But independent senator Nick Xenophon, who faces his own referral to the High Court, queried whether Mr Joyce was doing anything illegal.

“Until the High Court determines otherwise, he can still keep doing his job,” he told reporters.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott came to the defence of Mr Joyce, insisting his case was the same as Labor leader Bill Shorten’s, whose father was also born overseas.

“Show your (renunciation) letter or shut up about Barnaby Joyce,” Mr Abbott told reporters.

“Because if you haven’t got a letter, you are in exactly the same position that he is in and you should let him and you should let the Parliament get on with its job this week.”

Cabinet minister Fiona Nash and key crossbencher Nick Xenophon will be referred to the High Court over their dual citizenship when parliament resumes on Monday.

The pair joins five others, including Mr Joyce.