Australian PM’s deputy Morrison apologizes for calling leader a ‘liar’ | Political news

Barnaby Joyce’s remarks further undermine the political position of the Prime Minister, who must call a federal election by May.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has apologized to Prime Minister Scott Morrison for calling him a “hypocrite and a liar” and said Morrison had rejected his resignation offer.

Morrison said in a statement on Saturday that he accepts Joyce’s apology.

In a leaked message, the deputy prime minister, who leads Morrison’s junior coalition government partner, said last year he had never trusted Morrison.

“He is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and it has been a long time,” Joyce wrote to a former Liberal Party member from Morrison who had alleged sexual assault by a co-worker.

Joyce’s comments further undermine Morrison’s political standing, which is due to call a federal election by May. His approval ratings plummeted following his handling of a coronavirus outbreak brought on by Omicron.

“I want to apologize to the Prime Minister… I should never have written the text I wrote,” Joyce said at a press conference.

“My backbench view of the prime minister was based on assumptions and commentary, not a one-on-one working relationship.”

Joyce became deputy prime minister in 2021 as the leader of the National Party, not as a Morrison appointee. Joyce’s party, which has the power to impeach his leader, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Morrison replied, “Relationships change over time. Politicians are human beings too. We all have our weaknesses and none of us are perfect.

Joyce’s text message, first reported Friday night by Nine Newspapers, was sent through a third party to former Liberal Party employee Brittany Higgins. She had claimed to have been sexually assaulted in Parliament in March 2019.

The political turmoil comes just days after a controversy over an alleged exchange between Liberal Party members making derogatory remarks about Morrison.

Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was “untenable” for Joyce to continue as deputy prime minister.

“I don’t care that the members of the Liberal Party don’t all like each other,” Albanese said during a briefing. “What matters to me are the consequences of a dysfunctional government.”

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