Barnaby Joyce has admitted the breakdown of his marriage was one of the “greatest failures” of his life, as he finally broke his silence on claims he’s expecting a baby with a former staffer.
Just hours after the Deputy Prime Minister’s ex wife revealed she’s “devastated” about the news, Joyce himself spoke out in an interview with ABC’s 7.30 host Leigh Sales – and pleaded for his private life “to remain private” following the allegations.
“I’ll say upfront that one of the greatest failures in my life was the end of my marriage,” he told the host. “You make the commitment to try and see it through, now I acknowledge that I failed and I’m obviously incredibly sorry about that, but I’m also… like other people, incredibly hurt that private issues get dragged into the public arena.”
As Sales claimed the issue is in the public interest, he replied: “Unfortunately there’s a lot of marriages in Australia that come apart, and my relationship coming apart I don’t think makes me terribly unusual.
“I am not for one minute saying that that is an admirable trait. It’s obviously incredibly painful for everybody involved,” he added. “I can say quite openly it’s probably one of the greatest failures of my life. I’m not proud of it but that is, you know, in essence the humanity of who we are.”
News of the alleged pregnancy broke on Wednesday morning, with The Daily Telegraph reporting Joyce and Vikki Campion, 33, are “madly in love” and have moved in together. The paper published a photo of Campion, purportedly showing her growing baby bump. The baby is due sometime around April, at the same time that Joyce turns 51.
Joyce revealed in December that he had separated from his wife, saying at the time that he didn’t pretend “to be any saint or anything like that”. However, given his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage and previous statements about the sanctity of marriage, many are accusing the politician of hypocrisy.
Addressing these claims, an angry-looking Joyce replied: “Just because my marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean I disregard what marriages are all about. I don’t think anyone walks down the aisle thinking that it will come to an end.”
However, while he was open about his former marriage, he refused to confirm if he’s now expecting a baby, and despite Sales asking several times, he simply responded: “I want to make sure private matters remain private. I can’t fathom why a pregnant lady walking across the road deserves a front page.”
He went on to confirm there had been a number of Freedom of Information requests from different publications, asking whether he had used tax dollars to fund his alleged new relationship. He responded: “Nothing has been found because nothing is there. We’ve made sure private matters remain private.”
“Once we start going through this salami slicing of a private life, where does it end?” he added. “I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it would be right for any other politician.”
Determined to get a more solid answer, Sales pointed out that Joyce was “the powerful boss and the woman was on your staff,” hinting it was inappropriate, but he replied: “There was nothing beyond the consensual, this is a private matter.”
It came hours after Joyce’s scorned wife Natalie told The Australian she was devastated after learning of her husband’s relationship with his former media adviser.
“I am deeply saddened by the news that my husband is now having a child with a former staff member. I understand that this has been going on for many months and started when she was a paid employee,” she said. She added that the situation is “devastating on many fronts” and mentioned the former couple’s four daughters, who “feel hurt” by their father’s actions.
Ms Joyce said she was particularly hurt after inviting Ms Campion into her home and her life throughout the months she was employed by her husband, only to have the media adviser strike up the relationship behind her back.