Barnaby Speaks Out

Published: 13 February 2018

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The Deputy PM has denied breaching the ministerial code

Barnaby Joyce has held this expression all week

© 2018 AAP/Lukas Coch

Barnaby Joyce has publicly apologised to his estranged wife, daughters, pregnant partner and voters after his extra-marital affair was revealed.

The Nationals leader also denied misbehaviour allegations reported by News Corp and Fairfax Media and reserved his right to sue for defamation.

"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 it has caused them," he told reporters outside federal parliament on Tuesday. "To Vikki Campion, how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged into this.”

Later in a written statement, Joyce said his marriage was under pressure for some time. "Natalie and I tried to make it work again in April last year but it subsequently came to an end," he said.

"This has been a searing personal experience for Natalie, our daughters and for Vikki - criticise me if you wish but please have some regard for them." He also apologised to voters in his New England electorate for "this personal issue" going public.

Joyce’s leadership is under pressure after his relationship with Ms Campion was publicly exposed last week and questions were asked about her job transfers, which are alleged to have breached ministerial codes which state frontbenchers cannot employ partners or get them work in other ministerial offices "without the prime minister's express approval".

Campion worked for Joyce in August 2016. She then moved in April to work for Nationals MP and cabinet minister Matt Canavan, and then to the office of then-Nationals whip Damian Drum after Senator Canavan stepped down following questions over his citizenship.

Joyce said he was "very aware" of the rules. "It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now," he said. "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."

Mr Joyce also denied the allegations that he misbehaved at an awards ceremony for rural women in 2011.

"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," he said. "It did not happen."

Labor said Joyce's position in the government - he will be acting prime minister next week when Mr Turnbull is overseas - was becoming "increasingly untenable".

With AAP