Barnaby Joyce, under fire over an alleged affair he conducted with his media adviser Vikki Campion, has finally apologised to both his wife and four daughters, and Campion herself, after days of stalling.
The deputy prime minister had previously insisted that media interest in his relationship with Campion, who was a staffer in his office before being moved on to two other plum government jobs, was an invasion of his privacy. But after copping a continued hammering from both MPs and the press, Joyce made a short statement outside parliament this morning, multiple media outlets reported.
“I’d like to say to [wife] Natalie how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt this has caused, to my girls how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt that it has caused them … [and] to Vikki Campion how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged in to this,” he said, according to the Daily Telegraph‘s report.
Joyce’s relationship with his former adviser hit the headlines last Wednesday when the Daily Telegraph published a picture of a pregnant Campion and claimed the pair were now living together and expecting a baby. Reports have hinted heavily that Joyce and Campion’s relationship started as far back as April 2017, while he was still married to Natalie. Mrs Joyce herself released a statement last week saying that she understood the pair had been a couple for “many months”, including while Campion was the Nationals leader’s employee.
Joyce revealed in December that he and Natalie had separated, but has since declined to comment on the nature of his relationship with his ex-adviser, or even confirm that he was the father of her expected child, despite being grilled on the ABC’s 7.30 program by the formidable Leigh Sales. The matter is considered of public interest not just because Joyce used his nuclear family to campaign against same-sex marriage, but because ministerial rules don’t allow politicians to obtain jobs for partners or relatives.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used the fact that the pair weren’t officially a couple to pardon Joyce of having breached those rules at the time he allegedly helped Campion win jobs in two other Nationals politicians’ offices. She left his employ in April 2017, reportedly after the couple’s relationship caused unrest within Joyce’s own office.
Joyce today confirmed that Campion was currently his partner but insisted that she was not his partner while working in his office, nor when she was in the offices of Senator Matt Canavan. He skated around the issue of whether they were partners when she was working for MP Damian Drum, just noting in his comments that Drum “was not a minister” at the time Campion worked for him..