Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, is expecting a child with a former staffer, Vikki Campion, 33, and the timeline suggests the affair started while Campion was in Joyce’s employment.
It’s an assumption made more believable by Joyce’s continuous side-stepping of the question on Wednesday night’s 7:30. And, earlier in the day, Joyce’s estranged wife Natalie told The Australian the affair “has been going on for many months and started when [Campion] was a paid employee”.
Joyce, a father-of-four, is trying desperately to keep his private life private. And, almost certainly, the affair was mutually consensual.
But there is an important question that must be raised, and the host of ABC’s 7:30 Leigh Sales was the one to ask it: “Do you think that’s an appropriate way for a boss to behave?”
Joyce didn’t have an answer ready.
“I’m not going to go into the iterations of a private relationship,” he told her. “There’s nothing beyond the consensual. This is a private matter and everyone’s trying to second-guess what is a deeply private matter.”
Sales mentioned the admissions of two senior married AFL executives who quit in July last year after it emerged they had both conducted mutual relationships with younger female staff members. They said at the time they were “in the wrong” and “truly sorry”.
“Isn’t that the same situation here?” Sales asked Joyce, to no response.
Watch Barnaby Joyce stumble his way through his response in the below video.
His non-answer leads to more questions: Has he really no clue about the problematic power dynamic that is boss-employee relationships? Or is just playing dumb to save face?
In the current climate of #MeToo, and women having had enough of men abusing their positions in the workforce, Joyce at least needs to have an answer ready when people ask if dating an employee is an “appropriate way” for a boss to behave.
There is a man in a position of power – Joyce has been in the senate since 2005, and he’s held the position of Deputy Prime Minister, the second-most senior officer of the Australian Government, since 2016.
And Campion, a former journalist, was employed by Joyce’s office before leaving in April last year to work with one of his close colleagues, the Resources and Northern Australian Minister, Matt Canavan.
In other words: A woman in his employment who has less influence; who is depending on his job offer for her wages, or the job offers of those around him; and whose name is not a regular on the front page of newspapers until it emerges she’s expecting.