LOCAL Nationals MPs have broken their silence on the Barnaby Joyce affair.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the issue had dominated conversation in Canberra but the current party mood was it was "a private matter for Barnaby".
"The majority of the party room at this stage view that this is predominantly a private matter and believe that it should have been kept as such."
"He is our leader as the leader of the Nationals has done a really good job as a leader... he's done very well for our region... I think we've delivered a lot because he is leader."
"But I have no doubt he is feeling very bruised."
Mr Hogan said constituents had called and emailed his office expressing diverse opinions, from "this is a private matter, leave him alone," to "because of what he's done, he should leave tomorrow".
"Then the vast majority in the middle, who don't necessarily agree on his moral judgment but believe he shouldn't lose his job because of it," he said.
"Obviously there would be a lot of people who question his values and what's happened. I certainly don't think it's helped him.
But he added: "I don't think any of us are perfect."
He also said there was "a lot of concern and empathy" for Natalie Joyce and the couple's four daughters, as well as Mr Joyce's pregnant partner Vicki Campion.
Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie yesterday gave a "rolled gold" guarantee that Mr Joyce would remain the party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, suggesting the Nationals are getting behind their wounded leader - for now at least.
Meanwhile Lismore MP Thomas George said he was "very disappointed" about the scandal.
He said Mr Joyce would need to make a decision about his future that was not only in his best interests but those of "the party and the government and the community".
The long serving state MP said above all he was most concerned about the emotional fallout on the Joyce family.
He said he particularly felt for Natalie Joyce and the former couple's four daughters.
"If I had a wish it would be that this would all come to some sort of a decision... to take the pressure away from the families involved in this, because I know they are hurting very much."
Asked whether he predicted it would end his leadership of the party, Mr George said Mr Joyce was "smart enough" and experienced enough to make the decision himself.
The view from New England
Tenterfield mayor and National Party member Peter Petty said he backed Mr Joyce in full.
"It's his personal life and it's just sad that's it out in public," he said.
But he said "time will tell" whether he Barnaby's actions would 'pass the pub test' with local voters long-term.
As for his prediction? The matter would be "all blown over" in three months and Barnaby was "strong enough" to weather the storm.
"The politicians that are attacking him want to have a look in their own backyard," he said.
In a similar vein, Nationals Tenterfield branch secretary Josh Moylan said Mr Joyce's relationship breakdown was a fact of life in Australian society.
The 25-year-old said Mr Joyce's ability to deliver outcomes for regional Australia and his "big ideas" outweighed the negatives of his personal issues.
Mr Moylan said Mr Joyce was popular because he was "straight to the point" and there was "no muckaround".
"Give him a couple of months... and everyone will move past it.
"He is so popular still."
"Because he is able to deliver... he will pull through this."
According to one bartender at Tenterfield's Telegraph Hotel, local sentiment on the Joyce affair was split right down the middle.
Josh Telford said: "Half of them think he's a dick, and the other half think affairs happen all the time and he's just in the spotlight."
"It's very divided."
Prior to the scandal, Mr Telford said "80% of people actually liked (Joyce)."
"He has done a fair bit for this area".
But now those who have turned against the Deputy Prime Minister are "completely against him".
"They don't want anything to do with him."
"For me, I'm on the boundary," he said.
"I'd hate to be him to be honest."
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