Turnbull accused his deputy Barnaby Joyce of making a "shocking error of judgment" by having the office affair which had hurt his wife, his four daughters and his new partner who is due to give birth in April.
"He has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us". "I believe they were in many instances inept and most definitely in many instances unnecessary", Joyce was quoted as saying by the ABC broadcaster.
"All that's going to do is basically pull the scab off for everybody to have a look at", Joyce told reporters.
An Australian Financial Review editorial urged Turnbull to find a way to remove Joyce, denouncing him as a "big-spending agrarian socialist" who had made a "populist attack on the big supermarkets" and whose inland rail project "is an economic pork barrel".
MEMBERS of cabinet in Australia have been banned from having sex with staff members after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was embroiled in a scandal has left a former staffer pregnant with his child.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during House of Representatives question time at Parliament House on October 25, 2017 in Canberra, Australia.
But Turnbull responded Thursday by banning his ministers from having sex with staff.
But the change has had a mixed reaction, with warnings that details about ministerial sex lives will now be in the public interest - and not just of interest to the public.
Joyce said the ban "will create huge fodder for the good people in the media and it will obviously reverberate across all political parties".
Mr Joyce leads the rural-based National Party, the junior partner in the centre-right government led by Mr Turnbull's Liberal Party, a political alliance that has existed since 1923. He explained on Friday, before Joyce's angry news conference, that his deputy "has taken some leave and he is considering his position".
The Australian government ground to a complete fucking standstill today, as our Prime Minister and his deputy resorted to lobbing insults back and forth via duelling press conferences. "People should not resign on personal issues", he said.
Many agree with Joyce that his marriage breakdown and his current relationship with Vikki Campion are private matters.
And there are questions about Joyce's acceptance, rent-free, of a townhouse belonging to a wealthy friend, Greg Maguire, and whether Joyce broke ministerial rules forbidding asking for gifts.
But there is a widespread view within the Liberal Party that Mr Joyce has damaged the Coalition beyond fix and one Cabinet minister told the ABC, his future as Nationals leader was "untenable".
While there was a belief that if Joyce could get through the week and allow the dust to settle he may yet survive as leader, there are few MPs who don't think this is the beginning of the end for the Nationals leader.
Veteran Liberal MP, and Tony Abbott backer, Kevin Andrews called it a "circus" that has to be resolved "one way or the other".
The Nationals held a crisis meeting on Wednesday over whether Joyce should continue as their leader.
Mr Turnbull's harsh words for the Nationals leader have bewildered at least one of their senior colleagues who sees it as a unsafe move that could provoke the junior Coalition party.
He refused to provide further comments on the saga with Joyce.
Turnbull knows it and fears it, while Joyce is in denial.
But Shorten may well be right when he said that Aussies have every right to be angry that the country's two most senior pollies were wasting time on a public spat (he kept his comments focused on the coalition but the very same could be said for Labor and its time-wasting infighting).