Sex scandal rocks Australian govt as deputy PM impregnates aide

17 February, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Barnaby Joyce said the prime minister’s criticism of his behaviour was unnecessary because the details of his affair were already well-publicised

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during House of Representatives question time at Parliament House on October 25, 2017 in Canberra, Australia.

"Barnaby made a shocking error of judgment in having an affair with a young woman working in his office", he said.

"I am not here to moralise, but we must recognise that whatever may have been acceptable, or to which a blind eye was turned in the past, today in 2018, it is not acceptable for a minister to have a sexual relationship is with somebody who works for them", Mr Turnbull said yesterday.

Mr Joyce has been under fire for his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion, the jobs she was given in government offices, and his rent-free use of a townhouse belonging to a rich friend.

Mr Joyce also said the pressure from Mr Turnbull about his leadership was having the opposite effect than the one he intended.

Mr Turnbull, whose coalition holds a razor-thin majority of just one seat, also called on Mr Joyce to consider his position.

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Mr. Joyce admitted to the affair after a picture of his pregnant lover was splashed across the front page of The Sydney Daily Telegraph, and has publicly apologised to his wife Natalie and their daughters. "In regards to the National Party, there is nothing we dislike more than implied intervention into the processes of the National Party", he said.

In parliament just 48 hours earlier, Turnbull had insisted that Joyce retained his confidence and would act as prime minister while he travelled to the U.S. for discussions with the Trump administration.

Nationals sources have told 9NEWS Mr Joyce is now more determined to stay. He branded Turnbull's comments "inept" and "most definitely unnecessary".

"Australians have every reason to be angry and frustrated when the two most senior Australian leaders are not focused on anything other than their own jobs", Mr Shorten said.

Joyce warned that any pressure on the Nationals to dump him "locks people in as they lock-in behind the leader".

The existing ministerial code of conduct is "truly deficient", Turnbull said as he pledged to overhaul it in an effort to prevent such breaches in the future. Do we need to reform the nature of Australian political parties?

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But yesterday Joyce hit back, calling Turnbull's comments inept and insisting he had the backing of his party.

The prime minister has not directly said whether he believes Joyce should resign.

"They must not have sexual relations with their staff - that's it".

Last month, Joyce declared it was "really important we understand that we are intricately linked to the commerce of the People's Republic of China" after his Turnbull ministerial colleague Concetta Fierravanti-Wells denounced Chinese aid projects in the Pacific.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad supports Mr Joyce but reserved the right to change his position on Joyce if evidence of impropriety comes to light.

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