JOYCE FACES HARASSMENT CLAIM

A formal complaint of sexual harassment has been lodged against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce by an unnamed woman from Western Australia.

The Daily Telegraph reports ($) that National Party President Larry Anthony has confirmed the existence of the complaint, which a spokesperson for Joyce derided as “spurious and defamatory”. Sources told the Tele that the complaint was the reason the WA Nationals publicly dropped their support for Joyce as party leader earlier this week.

Yesterday, Nationals MP Andrew Broad became the federal MP to call for Joyce to leave his position as party leader. While Broad has not committed to put a spill motion before the party on Monday, fellow MP David Gillespie yesterday confirmed ($) he would put his own name forward for the position if it became vacant.

In Washington, D.C. overnight, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not endorse Joyce as Nationals leaders, saying the issue was one for the National Party to deal with.

It’s turning out to be a bountiful year for Australia’s tabloid media. The Daily Telegraph has a second sex-scandal story on its front page today, publishing texts sent by NSW Liberal Minister NSW Minister Matt Kean to fellow state member Eleni Petinos­ asking for sex. At the time, Kean was dating Caitlin Keage, who works in the office of one Malcolm Turnbull.

MOULD CASE

The federal government is facing a potential lawsuit after a number of reports warned it that mould in the tents housing asylum seekers on Nauru could be harmful to the health of detainees and workers.

The Guardian is reporting that at least 12 former staff from the centre have developed symptoms from mould exposure, and that testing found the levels of toxic mould to be well above safe levels. Lawyers are now considering whether a class action could be mounted.

Concerns about mould development in Nauru’s tropical climate have long been on the agenda, raised by multiple independent reports and regularly discussed at Senate inquiries. Around 330 refugees and asylum seekers still live in the tents.

The Department of Home Affairs says no health issues have developed as a result of exposure to the mouldy tents.

LABOR TO REVIEW TAFEs

The Labor Party has promised a broad review of both universities and TAFEs as part its first 100 days of government, should it be successful at the next federal election.

The party ($) says that between 2013 and 2016 the number of students with a government-funded position at TAFEs has dropped by 163,600, and that an inquiry into the post-school education sector will help boost employment.

Both major parties have opened the sector to greater competition from private providers in recent years, with numerous high-profile cases of fraud and for-profit rorts emerging over that period.

Opposition spokesperson for education Tanya Plibersek said she wanted students to see TAFEs and universities as equally attractive options.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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Victorian racing doping probe widens across state borders ($)

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Adelaide: Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne tours the HMS Sutherland and speaks to the media.

Washington, D.C.: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with the head of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers.

Melbourne: Infrastructure Australia will launch a report warning governments ($) to plan for population growth now or face falling living standards over the next 30 years.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Cheap shots become own goals when ministers make up ‘facts’ — Tony Abbott (The Australian $): “It’s ridiculous to accept that boosting immigration is just budget upside, as if Treasury really ­believed that population policy could fix the deficit. Most of all, it’s wrong to have a senior minister who invents things to score a cheap point against someone on his own side.”

Joyce has nobody else to blame — Sharri Markson (The Daily Telegraph $): “With the exception of Tony Abbott, Joyce does not have the support of the Liberal Party he is governing alongside.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Barnaby, the Nationals’ Id, keeps his story going — Bernard Keane: “If it wasn’t obvious before to his colleagues, it surely is now: Barnaby Joyce’s judgment is shot. He is no longer making bad calls, he’s making literally the worst call he could possibly make in every circumstance, as if by careful calculation.”

The confused person’s guide to who is and isn’t ‘left-wing — Helen Razer: “Mark Latham is very keen on the word ‘left’. He may have accidentally applied it correctly at one point, but his custom is to be incorrect. Items he has mistaken for left include Tracey SpicerIncorrect. “

What do we know about the deportation of a Tamil man back to Sri Lanka? — Scheherazade Bloul: “When Santharuban went to appeal his case with “new” evidence from prominent ex-LTTE members who testified to knowing Santharuban while he was involved with the LTTE naval wing, the Sea Tigers, it was ruled inadmissible.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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