Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has denied he broke the ministerial code of conduct as Vikki Campion was not his “partner” while she was employed by the government.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Joyce said while Campion was “now” his partner, she was not when she was working in his office, nor was she when she was moved to the offices of Matt Canavan and Damien Drum.
Watch Barnaby Joyce’s statement to the media on Tuesday morning.
“I am very aware of the ministerial code of conduct, it is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki is my partner now. When she worked in my office she was not my partner, when she worked in Matt’s office she was not my partner and Damien Drum was not a minister. I think this is vitally important in how we differentiate between the public and the private,” Mr Joyce said in a statement.
He also took the opportunity to deny a report published in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph alleging that in 2011 the then-Queensland Senator pinched a woman’s bottom after the Rural Women’s Agricultural Awards in Canberra.
The unidentified woman told the Daily Telegraph: “I went over to the bar and he was very, very drunk and nearly falling over.
“I said, ‘Barnaby, I think you should go home. You’re very drunk.’ He leant over and he pinched my bottom.”
Mr Joyce has denied the woman’s account.
“The story… it did not happen. This story 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.”
Listen: Jessie and Mia discuss all things Barnaby Joyce – including his new partner, his wife’s comments and the hypocrisy of it all. Post continues after audio.
While Mr Joyce acknowledged rumours of his alleged misconduct had been “on social media for years”, he previously did not believe it “dignified” a response.
He went on to extol how “deeply” sorry he was to his family for the very public way his private life is being discussed and reported.
“On another issue 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 this has caused them, to Vikki how sorry I am she has been dragged into this. I would like to also say to my supporters and people in my electorate how deeply sorry I am that this deeply personal issue has gone into the public arena.”