Barnaby Joyce digs in while Nationals debate forcing him out

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt

Hundreds of kilometres away in Canberra, the tide turned in favour of Mr Joyce surviving as Nationals leader, with his deputy Bridget McKenzie on Wednesday giving a "rolled gold guarantee" her boss won't be dumped, and other ministers lining up to insist the caravan should now move on.

His former wife, Natalie Joyce, said her husband's former media adviser had been a welcome visitor to the family home.

" These things happen in every family, in every town, in every workplace across the country".

After a tense 48-hour standoff, senior Nationals MPs fell in behind the Deputy Prime Minister to fend off a partyroom insurgency that continues to threaten Mr Joyce's leadership.

After The West Australian reported yesterday that Mr Joyce accessed more than $10,000 in family travel allowance past year while having an affair with Ms Campion, a spokesman said that the travel had complied with the rules governing entitlements.

Barnaby Joyce is fighting to keep his grip on the National party leadership.

Senator McKenzie rubbished reports a "mystical delegation" had formed to tell Mr Joyce to fall on his sword, saying "somebody's ... talking a big game and not delivering".

He said it was now important that the Nationals MPs "get back into their constituencies over the next week - people want to see them working and supporting their communities".

And nearly 50 per cent of respondents in Mr Joyce's electorate think their MP should move to the backbench or resign from Parliament altogether, as the repercussions from his personal crisis hit home.

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Mr Joyce has denied breaching the ministerial code of conduct, which says frontbenchers can not employ "close" relatives or partners or get them work in other ministerial offices "without the prime minister's express approval".

Labor, which had so far chosen not to demand Mr Joyce's resignation, stepped up its attack on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull has not asked his Liberal deputy to ready herself to be acting prime minister while he's in the United States next week in case Mr Joyce is not available to do the job.

Many Tamworth residents who spoke to Fairfax Media on Peel Street this week praised the Nationals leader as a hard-working representative of regional Australia and New England. Joyce said he did not break any rules because Ms Campion was not his "partner" at the time.

Although obviously in jest, a Labor MP yelled "It's an audition" as Mr O'Dowd was speaking.

Appearing to relish the attention, the Flynn MP said the committee would hold a public hearing tomorrow morning and that "anyone is welcome ... if any of you are out of bed by then".

Michelle Landry, the member for Capricornia, also backed Joyce.

He said was under no obligation to declare the rent-free accommodation because Greg Maguire was a "close friend".

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