Barnaby Joyce angered after Malcolm Turnbull's attack on his affair

Barnaby Joyce angered after Malcolm Turnbull's attack on his affair

Joyce, whose National Party is in a coalition with the prime minister's Liberals, will take leave next week, allowing him to side-step the role of acting leader while Turnbull is on a visit to the United States.

"Barnaby made a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office", he said.

Turnbull said his deputy had caused "terrible hurt and humiliation" to his estranged wife, Natalie Joyce, their four daughters, and Campion.

"In doing so, he has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us".

Mr Turnbull can not sack his deputy because it is up to the Nationals MPs to choose their leader under the coalition agreement.

The opposition Labor Party had hoped disaffected lawmakers in Barnaby Joyce's own Nationals party would back their motion, but coalition lawmakers in the House of Representatives held firm and defeated the motion 73 to 70 on Thursday.

"I have today added to the standards the very clear and unequivocal provision that ministers, regardless of whether they are married or single, must not engage in sexual relations with a staff member", said Turnbull at a press conference in Canberra.

But Mr Turnbull refused to order an investigation into the allegations.

Mr Joyce is understood to consider Mr Turnbull's public scolding extraordinary given he has been one of the Prime Minister's public backers at times when there has been pressure on his leadership to the government's performance in opinion polls.

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