NATIONALS deputy leader Bridget McKenzie has broken her silence over the Barnaby Joyce affair, telling Sky News that she has no issues with Mr Joyce’s handling of the situation and has backed him as leader.
The senator, who has an office in Bendigo’s Hargreaves Mall, had not spoken publicly for more than a week since news of the scandal was broken.
In a televised interview, Senator McKenzie said Mr Joyce “has the full support of the party”.
She said speculation about other Nationals MPs moving to oust the leader was news to her.
“I have not heard of somebody going to Barnaby. And this is the classic case that I’ve sort of been watching this week around this mystical delegation,” Senator McKenzie said.
“There is no delegation, and this is incredible. It’s this amorphous delegation that never materialises.
“Somebody is either talking a big game to the media and not delivering, which I think the media needs to pay attention to.”
Vikki Campion – the mother of Mr Joyce’s unborn child – was moved out of Mr Joyce’s office in April last year, but was forced out of Matt Canavan’s office three months later when he quit the frontbench over citizenship concerns.
After a brief period back in Mr Joyce’s office, she was moved to Damian Drum’s office as social media adviser on a six-figure salary. Mr Drum already had a media adviser.
Senator McKenzie said it was an appropriate course of action.
“She was deputy editor of the Daily Tele, like seriously, highly qualified in her role,” she told Sky News.
“Relationship within the office changing, decisions, she made the right decision to go work in another office where her skills could be used for the party’s best outcomes.
“I don’t see that there’s an issue there at all, again Barnaby’s statement again outlines what occurred and I’m really, really comfortable with that.
“I don’t agree... that all my colleagues are questioning our leader’s judgement at all, that’s not my conversations with them at all.”
Senator McKenzie is expected to fly out of Australia tomorrow for the Winter Olympics in South Korea in her role as sports minister.