Barnaby Joyce during a press conference in Armidale, New South Wales, Friday, February 23, 2018. Mr Joyce has resigned from the leadership of the Nationals Party as his party investigates an allegation of sexual harassment which he denies.
Barnaby Joyce during a press conference in Armidale, New South Wales, Friday, February 23, 2018. Mr Joyce has resigned from the leadership of the Nationals Party as his party investigates an allegation of sexual harassment which he denies. AAP Image - Marlon Dalton

‘PERSONAL ISSUES’: Joyce accuser named as PM speaks out

THE woman who accused Barnaby Joyce of sexual harassment has been named as a former recipient of the West Australian Rural Woman of the year award.

The Weekend Australian has named the woman as Catherine Marriott, after her lawyer, Emma Salerno, told the newspaper she wants the complaint followed through to its conclusion.

The revelation comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Joyce had made the "right decision" in resigning as deputy prime minister and Nationals leader yesterday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces the media in Washington, DC, after Barnaby Joyce’s resignation. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces the media in Washington, DC, after Barnaby Joyce’s resignation. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"The judgement that he's made in resigning was the right one for himself and his family," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Washington, DC.

Mr Joyce has denied the sexual harassment claims as "spurious and defamatory" and said he wants them referred to the police for investigation.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said earlier this week: "Allegations of wrongdoing should be immediately referred to police so that the veracity of any claim could be properly tested."

However Ms Marriott's lawyer said the complaint had not been taken to police "at this stage".

"What was most difficult and what prevents a lot of people in circumstances like this (from coming forward) is the repercussions of being dragged through a scandal," Ms Salerno told the paper. "It's the last thing my client wanted."

 

WA Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott, in Kununurra, Western Australia.
WA Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott, in Kununurra, Western Australia.

Mr Turnbull - who is in the US capital to meet with US President Donald Trump - is now seeking to move on from the drama surrounding Mr Joyce's leadership and affair with his former staffer Vikki Campion.

MORE: Joyce as 'stupid as it gets', Credlin says

"He has personal issues that he has to address, as he said, and he feels he cannot do that from the dispatch box," Mr Turnbull told reporters overnight.

"I want to say that the Coalition between the National Party and the Liberal Party is strong and enduring.

Malcolm Turnbull says Barnaby Joyce made the ‘right decision’ to resign. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Malcolm Turnbull says Barnaby Joyce made the ‘right decision’ to resign. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"The issues that have been the subject of public discussion over the last two weeks have not been issues between Nationals and Liberals. We have a 95-year-old political alliance, the longest in Australian history, and it is absolutely enduring."

"And I look forward now, obviously, to working with the new leader of the National Party, who will be elected on Monday."

The Nationals confirmed earlier this week a sexual harassment complaint against the deputy prime minister had been received. The complainant had previously been known as a high profile woman in West Australia's agricultural community.

Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann had described it as a "very serious" allegation.

"It's obviously important and appropriate that those allegations are being investigated, and further steps obviously will depend on the outcomes of that investigation," he said.

Barnaby Joyce resigned on Friday following weeks of speculation surrounding his relationship with former staffer, Vikki Campion, who is expecting their child in April.

Sky News commentator Peta Credlin slammed the government's handling of the scandal as "as stupid as it gets", saying no one in the Prime Minister's office had the "gumption" to manage the news properly.

Mr Turnbull thanked Mr Joyce from Washington overnight.

"I want to thank him for his service as a minister, as deputy prime minister over our years in government," he said.

"Barnaby made his own decision to take leave to reflect on the circumstances and deal with personal matters.

"He's made his decision to resign and I have a letter from him to that effect and, again, I thank him for his service."

The Prime Minister also stressed that Mr Joyce had resigned over a "very personal matter" that did not reflect any broader conflict between the Liberals and the Nationals.

"There are no issues between the National Party and the Liberal Party in relation to this at all," Mr Turnbull said.

"The issues have related to Barnaby, certain issues related to his conduct.

"The alliance - the Coalition between the Nationals and the Liberal Party - is very, very strong and it has endured for 95 years, which is quite a long innings."


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