The recent scandal involving Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Barnaby Joyce and his affair with his now ex-staff member Vikki Campion has taken over the Australian political discussion. While there had been rumours of his affair for some time they had not been confirmed until now.
Now there is a proposed law to ban sexual relationships between politicians and staff members in parliament specifically resulting from the Joyce scandal. Despite this, the appearance of Joyce with his wide Natalie Joyce at June 2017’s Mid Winter ball had given those speculating their separation some pause.
At the time Mrs Joyce, who has been married to Mr Joyce for 24 years, was being presented to the public by the coalition in an effort to dismiss the rumours of a marriage breakdown. Despite this, the timing of Joyce’s incoming lovechild with ex-staff member Vikki Campion suggests that he was active in the affair at the time.
Mrs Joyce said in a statement to the media that she now understands the affair had “been going on for many months” as well as it having started while Ms Campion was a “paid employee” in Mr Joyce’s office.
The 33-year-old Ms Campion had worked with Mr Joyce until April 2017, then moving to work for another two Nationals politicians before finishing her career as a public servant in December.
Mr Joyce recently appeared in a TV interview on the ABC’s 7:30 program. Joyce, in damage control mode, continually dodged questions about his affair using the word “private” at least 31 different times during a 7 minute interview.
Joyce said that he did not think it was helpful to anyone to “start making this a public discussion” and that he would do as much as he could to “keep private matters private”. He revealed that the breakdown of his long marriage was one of his “greatest failures” and that we was “not proud of it”.
When asked by the interviewer if he thought the matter was an issue of political character and trustworthiness Joyce said that nothing he did made him “terribly unusual”. If anything, the scandal makes Joyce more relatable to the many Australians who have experienced marriage breakdowns.
Despite this, Joyce doubled down on his belief that it was a “private issue” and that he would not return to the political arena to discuss his “private life”.
Over Joyce’s 13 year political career in both Queensland and New South Wales he has used his seemingly ideal family as a tool in his election campaigns. It could be said that prior to this scandal Mr Joyce’s private affairs were anything but private.