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Scandal Down Under

Scandal Down Under
There was a time when a sex scandal could bring down the government in Britain but not so Down Under, in Australia. Indeed, the Profumo affair, that featured the high and mighty and a "ravishing" Commoner, Christine Keeler, had the Harold McMillan government come crashing down in London last century. But Australia's Parliamentary sex scandal has opened a different can of worms and a growing rift in the governing coalition as deputy leader Barnaby Joyce described Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as "inept" for criticising his affair with an aide. Joyce, 50, whose National Party rules alongside Turnbull's Liberals, admitted last week to having an affair with his 33-year-old media adviser, who is pregnant with their child.
Turnbull yesterday harshly admonished Joyce for making a "shocking error of judgement" for the affair and said he had created a "world of woe" for his wife, four daughters, and lover Vikki Campion. Turnbull, head of the Liberal Party, acknowledged that he was powerless to remove Joyce, who holds the deputy position as leader of smaller National Party on which he relies to govern. Joyce has not only refused to resign but accused Turnbull of interfering with internal National Party affairs. He blasted the PM's comments as "inept", "unnecessary", and causing "further harm".
"I don't believe people should be resigning in any job over personal issues," Joyce added. "In any workplace in Australia, when personal issues become the determination of a job, then I think we have moved to a very sad place," he said. Daily media headlines about the affair have riveted the public and sparked debate about workplace culture in Australia amid the global #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. But it has also highlighted the perilous state of the coalition government, which just a few months ago survived a crisis over lawmakers' dual citizenship that threatened its wafer-thin parliamentary majority. The Labour opposition has capitalised on the situation with leader Bill Shorten calling for Turnbull to sack Joyce. "This government is in crisis. It is a full-blown political crisis," Shorten said, adding that the spat showed neither man was "fit for the high office they currently hold". The citizenship crisis had capped a decade of turmoil for Australian politics that saw a revolving door of Prime Ministers. Labour's Kevin Rudd, who came to power in 2007, was ousted as Prime Minister by his deputy Julia Gillard, before snatching back the top job in 2013. He lost the national election in the same year to the Liberals' Tony Abbott, who was then deposed by rival Turnbull in 2015. Given the current state of affairs, the door, it seems, will resume revolving sooner than later.

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