- There’s mounting speculation that the deputy PM may step down by the end of the week.
- Former Nationals leader John Anderson has called on Joyce to ‘fix your mess’.
- Joyce says he’s done nothing wrong as an MP as he fights for his political life.
Nationals leader and deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has released a written statement on his personal and professional life within an hour of addressing the media this morning as he fights for his political life.
A series of questions and allegations about his professional behaviour appeared in a range of media reports today, including claims in The Daily Telegraph that a political rival warned the PM’s office about harrassment of a woman in 2011, a claim he denies and say he’s considering legal action over.
Joyce says “no such thing happened” and the allegation “is serious defamation”.
The Nationals leader says his 24-year marriage had been “under pressure for some time” and he and his wife “tried to make it work again in April last year” but it ended.
“I take responsibility for that failure,” he said.
Joyce says he did not discuss his now-pregnant partner Vikki Campion’s appointments to roles on the staff of two senior Nationals because “Vikki was not my partner, so they were dealt with in the usual course of staff deployments within the party”.
Yesterday the Turnbull’s office said Joyce was not in breech of the ministerial code which says MPs cannot employ relatives because Campion was not his partner at the time.
Yesterday afternoon, former Nationals whip Damian Drum, told ABC radio that Campion was his highest paid member of staff when she came to work for him in the second half of 2016.
He said “there were rumours around the parliament that something was going on”, but when she came to work for him, his understanding was “it was no longer an ongoing affair”.
“I suppose what you have to ask when does a casual relationship become a regular relationship, when does that become a formal relationship,” he said.
In his first spoken statement today, Barnaby Joyce said:
I am very aware of the ministerial code of conduct. It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now. But 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.
In his later written statement, Joyce said their child is due in mid-April and appealed for consideration for his estranged wife and new partner saying it has been “a searing personal experience” for them.
Here’s his full statement:
I completely reject the allegation in the Daily Telegraph this morning. It is not the truth. No such thing happened. This and similar nonsense has been retailed in the past by embittered political opponents.
Given the circumstances, I have consulted senior legal advisers and reserve the right to take action for what is serious defamation.
I deeply regret the failure of my 24-year marriage, the tremendous hurt caused to Natalie and our four daughters and the unwanted public intrusion into what is an intensely private matter for all of us.
My marriage was under pressure for some time. Natalie and I tried to make it work again in April last year but it subsequently came to an end. I take responsibility for that failure.
Vikki Campion has also been the subject of unwanted and deeply hurtful commentary at a difficult time, particularly as we are having a child together in mid-April.
In 2016 Vikki worked on the election campaign and, in August, came to work on my staff. A friendship subsequently developed and that became, over time, more.
In April last year she went to work for a senior colleague, Mr Canavan. She was well-qualified for the role, was an existing and obviously capable staff member and the change was within the existing Nationals staff arrangement.
I did not discuss these matters with the prime minister or his office as Vikki was not my partner, so they were dealt with in the usual course of staff deployments within the party.
When Mr Canavan stood down over the citizenship issue she went to work for another MP and subsequently left the Nationals staff following the most recent reshuffle.
This has been a searing personal experience for Natalie, our daughters and for Vikki – criticise me if you wish but please have some regard for them.
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