Australia's PM in damage control as scandal undermines deputy

From Reuters - February 18, 2018

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull brushed aside suggestions of a rift in his coalition government on Sunday, saying there were no issues between the Liberal and National parties in the wake of a sex scandal that has swamped Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

I can assure you that the relations are very strong, he said at a televised press conference in Melbourne.

I know there was great excitement in the media that there was some Coalition clash, there are no issues between the Liberal and National parties, at all. None at all.

Joyce leads the rural-based National Party, the junior partner in the centre-right government led by Turnbulls Liberal Party, a political alliance that has existed since 1923.

The coalition rules with a majority of just one seat but relations between the parties have been strained since news broke that Joyce had an extra-marital affair with his former press secretary, who is now pregnant.

The scandal prompted the Prime Minister to ban sexual relationships between ministers and their staff.


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