Barnaby Joyce says he is “deeply sorry” to family and voters

Published: 13 February 2018

deputy

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has slammed allegations of sexual misconduct at a 2011 event and said he reserves all his legal rights to take action against “what is serious defamation.”

Mr Joyce said he “completely rejects” the allegations by the Daily Telegraph that he pinched the bottom of a woman after an awards ceremony seven years ago.

“It is not the truth,” Mr Joyce said in a statement today.

“No such thing happened.

“This and similar nonsense has been retailed in the past by embittered political opponents.”

The Nationals Leader has been under the spotlight this week after it was confirmed he is expecting a baby in April with his current partner and former staffer, Vikki Campion.

The news came after Mr Joyce admitted late last year that his 24-year marriage with wife Natalie Joyce, with whom he already has four daughters, had broken down.

Mr Joyce has faced questions this week over whether the ministerial code of conduct was breached when Ms Campion, his former media advisor, was appointed to roles in the offices of Resource Minister Matthew Canavan and Nationals MP Damian Drum, before she left the Nationals.

However, Mr Joyce today shot down any suggestions he should have notified Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of the new appointments, saying Ms Campion was not his partner at the time.

The Deputy PM today said Ms Campion had begun working as a member of his staff in August 2016 when a friendship developed, before she moved to work for Mr Canavan in April 2017.

“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,” Mr Joyce said.

“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.”

“When Mr Canavan stood down over the citizenship issue she went to work for another MP and subsequently left the Nationals staff following the most recent reshuffle.”

In his statement, Mr Joyce said he takes responsibility for the “failure” of his marriage, which he said had been “under pressure for some time.”

“I deeply regret the failure of my 24-year marriage, the tremendous hurt caused to Natalie and our four daughters and the unwanted public intrusion into what is an intensely private matter for all of us,” Mr Joyce said.

“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.”

Mr Joyce today also addressed media outside Parliament House and again denied any truth to the alleged 2011 incident.

“This is not a case where I did not recollect it. It did not happen,” Mr Joyce said, adding he was aware of the allegations for several years but said he did not think it earlier “dignified a response.”

He again publically apologised to his family and voters and confirmed “without a shadow of a doubt” that he and Ms Campion were currently in a relationship.

“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 all of this,” Mr Joyce said.

“I’d like to also say to all 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.”

He added that it was “vitally important” in differentiating between the public and the private.