Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has made a public statement about his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion in which he apologised to his estranged wife and family, and denied any breach of ministerial rules.
“I’d like to say to 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 this has caused them. To Vikki Campion how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged into this,” Joyce said during a short statement outside of Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday morning, Feb. 13.
The deputy prime minister has also apologised to his electorate following negative publicity over his affair.
“I’d like to also like to say to my supporters and people in my electorate how deeply sorry I am that this personal issue has gone into the public arena.”
During his brief statement, Joyce publicly confirmed his relationship with Campion, who is pregnant with his baby, but maintained that they were not in a relationship when she was working in his office.
“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,” he added.
— Jamieson Murphy (@jamiesonmurph) February 7, 2018
Joyce subsequently released a written statement detailing Campion’s employment at his office, reported Fairfax.
“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,” Joyce said in his written statement, released after his appearance in front of Parliament House.
“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,” he added.
The ministerial code of conduct states that “close relatives and partners are not to be appointed to positions in their ministerial or electorate offices, and must not be employed in the offices of other members of the Executive Government without the Prime Minister’s express approval.”
Essentially argument here is he got back with his wife in April. He sent Vicki Campion to Matt Canavan's office same month doesn't explain why. Campion is pregnant by July. Moved to Drum office around same time. According to Oz report stress leave October. Redundo December. pic.twitter.com/Yuifr0YbE4
— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) February 12, 2018
Joyce has threatened legal action against an unnamed “political enem[y],” who he said “peddled” a story about sexual misconduct at an event in 2011 which was published in the Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail, reported SBS News.
No questions were taken and there was no indication whether Joyce was considering resigning over his affair. He is set to be acting Prime Minister when Malcolm Turnbull travels to the United States next week.
“Acting Prime Minister is an extraordinarily important position and it is hard to believe Mr Joyce could do justice to that position given the distractions he is now enduring,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said, reported the ABC.
Coalition Senator Ian Macdonald said Joyce was the only person who could resolve this private issue. He said whether the Deputy Prime Minister steps down was “a matter for Barnaby to determine.”
On Monday night, Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison told the ABC, “There’s no-one I know in the parliament who is a stronger advocate for rural and regional Australia.
“While events regarding Barnaby’s private life … are disappointing, most importantly to his family and others, that doesn’t change the fact that Barnaby, over a long period of time in his public life, has dedicated himself to public service and the people he represents.”
“Can I say as his shadow minister that this is a personal matter,” Anthony Albanese from the Australian Labor Party told FIVEaa. “In my view, there is no public interest in public discussion of it.”
“People cannot possibly know what people’s personal circumstances are and certainly I, and I would hope no one on my side of politics is going to participate in a public debate… I want to take about policy difference, not personal lives.”
— Emily Burley (@emilyburley) February 8, 2018
News about Joyce’s affair with Campion and that they were expecting a child in mid-April came into the limelight on Feb. 7, shocking the Australian public. Joyce said that his 24-year marriage with his wife Natalie was “under pressure for some time.” He said that they tried to make it work again in April last year but that it didn’t work out.
Joyce announced his separation from Natalie in December 2017, but the two remain married at this time. They have four daughters together.
Here is the full statement that Joyce made to the media:
Guys, how are you going? I’ll make a statement. I won’t take any questions. Ready?
This morning, in the Telegraph and the Courier-Mail, and referred to in other papers, is a story that is not the truth.
The story – it’s not a case that I didn’t recollect it. It did not happen.
This is a story that has been brought about by a person unnamed, at a venue unnamed, at a time unnamed, seven years ago, and has been peddled by the bitterest of political enemies to me.
It is not something that I’m unaware of. They’ve had it on social media for years.
It’s just, in the past, I don’t believe it dignified a response. But today, it’s in the paper and, as such, I reserve all my legal rights as to what action I should pursue.
On another issue, I would like to say to 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.
To Vikki Campion, how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged into this.
I would like to also say to my supporters and people in my electorate how deeply sorry I am that this personal issue – deeply personal issue – has gone into the public arena.
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.
I think this is vitally important in how we differentiate between the public and the private. Thank you.
With his pregnant girlfriend Vikki Campion up at Palm Cove on December 29. He wasn't hiding the relationship. I wonder if she knows about his views on abortion. Maybe she shares them, maybe not. pic.twitter.com/NffdJMYnsZ
— Amy Wise (@amywise1) February 7, 2018
Natalie also made a public statement, asking for privacy for her family at this challenging time:
I am deeply saddened by the news that my husband has been having an affair and is now having a child with a former staff member.
I understand that this affair has been going on for many months and started when she was a paid employee.
This situation is devastating on many fronts.
For my girls who are affected by the family breakdown and for me as a wife of 24 years, who placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life.
Our family life has had to be shared during Barnaby’s political career and it was with trust that we let campaign and office staff into our homes and into our lives.
Naturally we also feel deceived and hurt by the actions of Barnaby and the staff member involved.
The situation for myself and the girls will be made worse by the fact that this will all be played out in public so at this time.
I would ask that the girls and I are given some privacy and time to come to terms with the consequences and take steps to plan our future.