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Joyce survives push to force him to quit

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February 14, 2018

Nationals MP Ken O'Dowd (file) wants the future of Barnaby Joyce settled in the next 24 hours.

Barnaby Joyce is hanging on to his job despite a group of Nationals MPs pushing him to resign after his partner was handed two political jobs.

The deputy prime minister on Tuesday apologised to his estranged wife, daughters, pregnant partner, coalition MPs and voters but said he is determined to get through his "time of trial".

Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack, who has missed out twice on becoming deputy leader, on Tuesday night denied he had been having conversations with colleagues to replace Mr Joyce.

"No I haven't," he told reporters in Canberra.

AAP understands a group of about four or five Nationals MPs are trying to get Mr Joyce to resign, but they don't have the numbers in the 21-member party room to force a change.

Tony Abbott's former chief of staff when he was prime minister, Peta Credlin, told Sky News if the majority of the Nationals had a show of unity and declared they backed Mr Joyce, "this goes away as much as possible for the government".

Malcolm Turnbull expressed confidence in Mr Joyce, who denied breaching the ministerial code of conduct over the employment of his girlfriend Vikki Campion in two political jobs.

"I would like to say to (my wife) Natalie how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt this has caused. To my girls, how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt it has caused them," My Joyce told reporters outside federal parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Joyce said his marriage had been under pressure for some time before the affair began.

He also apologised to voters in his New England electorate for "this personal issue" going public.

"Every political career has a time of trial," he told a coalition partyroom meeting.

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

"When she worked in my office, she was not my partner. When she worked in Matt Canavan's office, she was not my partner. And Damian Drum was not a minister," Mr Joyce said.

Former Nationals leader Warren Truss said the situation needed to be resolved quickly.

Mr Joyce's child with Ms Campion is due in mid-April.

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