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Deputy's warning to Barnaby: Women have a right to be wary of you

Politics

Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud has put Barnaby Joyce on notice about his behaviour towards women.

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The deputy prime minister returned as leader of the junior coalition partner last week, three-and-a-half years after being engulfed in scandal over his affair with a staffer.

Joyce says he hopes he’s now a better person.

He still fiercely denies the sexual harassment accusation that led to his resignation in February 2018.

Littleproud said if Mr Joyce’s behaviour was not up to scratch the Nationals and rural women would have a discussion about his future.

“It should be his actions he is judged by,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

“We cannot and no one will continue to support somebody that has done the wrong thing.”

Littleproud acknowledged some women in regional Australia were unhappy with Joyce’s return.

“They’ve got every right to be upset. Barnaby himself has acknowledged the wrongdoing he has done,” he said.

“He obviously stood aside from the leadership of the National Party in acknowledging that wrongdoing.”

But the deputy Nationals leader believes Australia should give Joyce another chance.

“What he is saying is that he believes that he has reflected to the juncture where he has shown remorse, he has reformed himself,” Littleproud said.

“Now all he is saying is please give him a go.”

Governor-General David Hurley will swear in Joyce’s ministry during a ceremony in Canberra on Friday.

Key supporters have been rewarded with promotions while MPs who backed Michael McCormack to remain as Nationals leader will be demoted.

Wounds from the Nationals’ turmoil remain open with debate about climate change policy cited as a crucial sticking point with the Liberals.

Littleproud wants the agriculture sector to receive financial rewards for helping Australia to reduce carbon emissions.

“Australian farmers can be part of the solution but they have to be paid for it. We paid the bill without any compensation last time,” he said.

Victorian MP Darren Chester, who has been dumped from cabinet, warned if Nationals MPs and senators lock into climate change denial, they could wave goodbye to a generation of voters.

The Australian reported Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh unsuccessfully attempted to disaffiliate the state party from the federal body in protest at Mr Joyce’s position on climate policy.

Malcolm Turnbull, who governed alongside Joyce, believes his return could make it impossible for the government to move towards the stance of key allies on climate.

“Barnaby is clearly determined to do everything he can to prevent Australia making a commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050,” the former prime minister told the ABC.

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