Under-fire Barnaby Joyce is set to be acting prime minister next week as one of his Nationals MPs says he has "100 per cent support" in the party.
Source: 1 NEWS
The deputy prime minister will take over the top job when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flies to the United States to meet with President Donald Trump.
Mr Joyce is facing questions over the process which saw his now-partner Vikki Campion take up a senior adviser job in the office of Nationals whip Damien Drum while Mr Joyce was embroiled in the citizenship fiasco last year.
Mr Drum's taxpayer-funded staffing allocation was reportedly boosted to accommodate Ms Campion. But Nationals senator Nigel Scullion angrily defended his leader today.
"Fair dinkum, this is the biggest beat-up I've ever seen," the minister told reporters.
"This started off as a personal matter. There seems to be a bit of a swell - 'let's go and get rid of Barnaby'.
"I tell you what, the people who keep Barnaby in his position are National Party people and he has 100 per cent support from all of us."
Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said he had heard "comments" that Mr Joyce would not be acting prime minister next week. He said the government needed to clarify the situation.
Asked if Mr Joyce was the best person to lead the party to the next election, Nationals senator John Williams told ABC radio on Monday: "He's certainly been a great leader and I stick by that."
But later he told ABC TV: "Let's see how all of the travel things come out and so on. I just don't know."
"I don't know if he's done anything wrong by the law of the parliament or the taxpayers and I can't judge on that."
Mr Joyce's relationship with the pregnant Ms Campion was publicly confirmed last week just two months after he told parliament his 24-year marriage was over.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has called on the coalition to be transparent about Ms Campion's job trajectory after the relationship with Mr Joyce became known within government circles last year.
The government maintains nothing untoward happened, pointing to Ms Campion's appropriate job skills.
"There are lots of whispers being mounted, it seems, but very few real substantiated allegations that I've seen being made," cabinet minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News.