Joyce accuses Turnbull of ‘wrecking and sniping’
BARNABY Joyce has accused Malcolm Turnbull of trying to bring down the government after the former prime minister lobbied his successor to refer Peter Dutton to the High Court.
"What we now have is a majority of one and it seems like (Mr Turnbull) has an active campaign to try and remove us as the Government," Mr Joyce told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. "Boy, that is bitterly disappointing."
Mr Joyce said it would be fair to characterise Mr Turnbull's intervention as "wrecking and sniping". He agreed it could be likened to guerrilla warfare.
Mr Joyce argued Coalition MPs had given the former prime minister loyalty and expected it in return, warning Mr Turnbull risked impugning his legacy.
"It's not so much how you rode the horse, it's how you get off it that counts," Mr Joyce later told Sky News.
"Some people get off sweetly out of the saddle and walk to the rails. Some people just want to keep one foot in the stirrup and get dragged around for a bit, and it doesn't look good."
Mr Turnbull's comment came in the form of a tweet on Wednesday night - his first intervention in Aussie politics since being rolled as prime minister.
"The point I have made to Scott Morrison and other colleagues is that given the uncertainty around Peter Dutton's eligibility, acknowledged by the Solicitor General, he should be referred to the High Court, as Barnaby was, to clarify the matter," he tweeted.
Mr Dutton is under a constitutional cloud over his personal financial stake in publicly funded childcare centres, which his critics claim presents a conflict of interest.
The constitution bans politicians from benefiting financially in any way from the Commonwealth.
Asked whether the Home Affairs Minister should be referred to the High Court, Mr Joyce said Mr Dutton was an honourable person.
"I'm not going to start being someone else's judge and jury," he said.
Mr Joyce served as deputy prime minister to Mr Turnbull before being forced to resign, with the pair falling out over the former Nationals leader's affair with a staffer.
Mr Joyce referred himself to the High Court earlier this year after discovering he was a dual citizen, putting him in breach of the constitution.