Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull's defence that Vikki Campion wasn't technically the deputy PM's partner when she was gifted plum jobs has been slammed as a cop out.
Speaking to the media this morning, Barnaby Joyce vehemently denied Vikki Campion was his partner at the time she was set up with employment in the offices of Matt Canavan and Damian Drum.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Vikki Campion is my partner now, but when she worked in my office, she was not my partner.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull churned out a similar statement over the Campion controversy, saying she was not technically his partner at the time of the appointments.
Campion, of course, was reported to have been gifted a newly-created job paying somewhere in the vicinity of $190,000 annually with Canavan, and then moved to a custom-crafted media advisor role with Drum despite the then chief Nationals whip already having one.
News Corp columnist Sharri Markson tweeted: “She was five months pregnant and spent the Christmas holidays with Barnaby Joyce, but Malcolm Turnbull claims Vikki Campion was not his partner and therefore he was not in breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.”
She was five months pregnant and spent the Christmas holidays with Barnaby Joyce, but Malcolm Turnbull claims Vikki Campion was not his partner and therefore he was not in breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct https://t.co/LWvNmfgXle
— Sharri Markson (@SharriMarkson) February 12, 2018
Joyce then went on to say he didn’t tell the PM about the affair.
“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 said in his second statement today.
However, a senior government source said Turnbull authorised the moves in an effort to separate the pair.
Drum even admitted to knowing about the affair prior to taking Campion on and said “there were rumours going around parliament that something was going on” between her and Joyce.
His chief of staff told him the relationship had ended before she moved into the media advisor role.
Joyce’s position as deputy PM is untenable
MP Chris Bowen told Fran Kelly on Radio National that it was ludicrous to suggest Campion wasn’t his partner.
“We have the issue of the prime minister saying that the individual involved was not Barnaby Joyce’s partner. Now, Fran, I spend a lot of time in my electorate office in Fairfield West ringing Centrelink on behalf of my constituents trying to get problems sorted out,” he began.
“If I rang and said there’s two people who have a relationship and she is pregnant but they say they are not partners or they don’t want to be regarded as partners for the purpose of Centrelink, I think my friendly Centrelink staff would laugh at me, frankly, despite their respect for me and my position.
“So I think there is a number of areas where the government’s story has unravelled… Barnaby Joyce’s position is increasingly untenable.”
Turnbull, however, has said that Joyce still has his backing and will be acting PM when he visits the US next week.