Federal Politics


Malcolm Turnbull conscious of 'distress' in Barnaby Joyce affair

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he and his wife Lucy are acutely aware of the hurt Barnaby Joyce's marriage breakdown has caused his estranged wife and daughters.

Mr Turnbull would not be drawn on reports the Deputy Prime Minister's new partner and former staffer was offered a posting in a colleague's office last year, saying he did not want to publicly discuss private matters.

Up Next

Xenophon: 'I'll be citizen X' for some time

Video duration

More Federal Politics Videos

Barnaby Joyce questioned about marriage breakdown

The Deputy Prime Minister refuses to go into detail about his new relationship but tells Leigh Sales on 730 that his marriage breakdown was one of his 'greatest failures'.

"It is a tough and distressing episode and I am very conscious - Lucy and I are very conscious - of the hurt occasioned to Natalie and their daughters in particular," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"So that's why I don't want to add or contribute to the discussion about it."

The Prime Minister rejected the need for Australia to follow the United States and ban MPs from sleeping with their staff.

"Relations between consenting adults is not something that normally, you would be justified in, if you like, seeking to regulate," he told reporters.


"Adults can conduct their relationships - if it's consensual, respectful - that's their right."

News Corp reported on Friday that Mr Joyce's partner, Vikki Campion, was assigned a digital and social media position in the office of Nationals MP Matt Canavan and was not replaced in the months after she left.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne is confident the appointment was above board, saying "maybe that's the job that Matt Canavan wanted in his office at that time".

"I'm not in the gun on this story and I think it's highly unlikely anything untoward occurred," Mr Pyne told the Nine Network.

"I'm sure it was all entirely appropriate, but again that's a matter that Matt Canavan needs to respond to, not me."

News Corp on Friday cited a spokeswoman for Senator Canavan, who was resources minister at the time, as saying Ms Campion was "suitably qualified" for the role given her work history.

This week it was revealed Mr Joyce, 50, and a pregnant Ms Campion, 33, are now in a private relationship.

In July, Senator Canavan, who once worked as Mr Joyce's chief of staff, resigned his ministry after issues were raised about his eligibility to sit in Parliament.

Once those were resolved, he returned to the frontbench in October.

On Friday, independent MP Cathy McGowan rejected claims she wants to introduce a ban on sexual relationships within Parliament House - instead insisting she was calling for a "conversation"  about what is appropriate between bosses and employees.

“I think it would be incredibly difficult to govern people’s behaviour by law,” Ms McGowan said.

“If circumstances happen where you have a relationship at work and you’re the boss, it takes great skill to manage it.

“So for us as members of Parliament who employ staff, some professional development around what the corporate world is already managing would be very useful.”

with Shana Morgan