Barnaby Joyce who has campaigned on "family values" and who has been married for 24 years, is facing calls from within his own party to step down following an extramarital affair.

Australia's deputy prime minister is facing calls from within his own party to step down over an extramarital affair.
Australia's deputy prime minister is facing calls from within his own party to step down over an extramarital affair. (Reuters)

Australia's embattled deputy prime minister, under pressure over an extramarital affair, faced a call to step down as leader of his party on Thursday, the first such call from a member of the party, which is part of the ruling coalition.

Barnaby Joyce who has campaigned on "family values" and who has been married for 24 years, refused to resign when it was made public he was expecting a child with his former staffer.

"He needs to step down as leader of the National Party, take a step back into the back bench for a time," Andrew Broad a member of parliament from Joyce's National Party told state-owned broadcaster, the ABC.

The National Party is in a ruling coalition with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal Party. The coalition holds a one-seat majority in parliament.

Turnbull last week harshly admonished Joyce for making a "shocking error of judgement" for the affair and said he had created a "world of woe" for his wife, four daughters and lover Vikki Campion.

Turnbull powerless

Turnbull, head of the Liberal Party, acknowledged that he was powerless to remove Joyce, who holds the deputy position as leader of smaller National Party on which he relies to govern.

He instead announced that a formal ban on sexual relations between cabinet members and their staff would be added to the ministerial code of conduct.

Joyce hit back in a defiant press conference in Canberra last Friday, refusing to resign and accused Turnbull of interfering with internal National Party affairs. He blasted the Turnbull's comments as "inept," "unnecessary" and causing "further harm."

Joyce has also come under criticism after media reports earlier this week that he had failed to declare his interests in a piece of land to the cabinet when it approved the Melbourne-to-Brisbane inland rail project proposal.

According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper Joyce could benefit from an increase in property values as a result of the construction of the railway line.

Broad said he would take up the issue of Joyce's leadership at a party meeting in the capital, Canberra, on Monday.

His call is the latest sign that support for Joyce from within his rural-based party is eroding, amid concern disapproval of the affair could undermine support in state elections.

A state branch of the party withdrew its support for Joyce this week because of the affair.

Two-thirds of voters want Joyce to resign over the affair, according to the Australian newspaper's Newspoll.

Source: Reuters