“I don’t come to this debate pretending to be any form of saint or anything like that, but I do believe that the current definition of marriage which has stood the test of time – half of them fail, I acknowledge that I’m currently separated, so that’s on the record – it is a special relationship between a man and a woman predominately for the purpose – if you are so lucky – to bring children into the world.”
Such were the words of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during the same-sex marriage debate in December last year. The 50-year-old had put two absolutes on the record: That his marriage was over, and he didn’t believe in marriage equality.
Of course, many members of the press gallery – and, in truth, the public too – knew both of these things already. Rumours regarding the state of Joyce’s marriage had been circulating for some months by that point.
On Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph broke what has been widely regarded as Canberra’s worst kept secret: Joyce is expecting a baby with his former staffer, 33-year-old Vikki Campion. It’s believed the two are now living together and the baby is due in April.
So why did it take so long for the story to surface? In actual fact, why did the story surface? And who is left in its wake, while Joyce takes up his new life with his partner?
Well, in order to go there, we should probably go right back to the start.
As a student, Joyce attended the University of New England and majored in accountancy. According to a 2016 profile of the politician in the Good Weekend, he was “an enthusiastic brawler and a rugby player”, brash in his pursuit of future wife Natalie.
In May 2017, a piece in the Weekend Australian detailed their first meeting, where a young Senator Joyce sat in a ute at a car rally for O Week, looked at his future wife and said, “You’ll do.”