Australian minister's affair leads to sex ban with staffers

Barnaby Joyce expecting baby with ex-staffer reports

Under the code of conduct, Mr Turnbull must approve any ministerial department job given to the partner of a frontbencher.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced Barnaby Joyce will take a week of personal leave next week to avoid stepping up as acting prime minister while Mr Turnbull is in the United States.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has admitted to an affair with 33-year-old Vikki Campion, who used to work in his office, leaving his wife of 24 years and their four daughters.

He has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us.

Turnbull said the ban on sexual relationships would apply even if the minister was single.

Apparently, nothing, which is why Joyce hasn't *technically* done anything wrong (if you'll follow the PM's extremely generous understanding of what constitutes a "partner").

The prime minister reaffirmed his deputy would act for him while he visited the White House next week.
While Nationals deputy Bridget Mackenzie was also giving Mr Joyce her whole-hearted backing.

He has denied allegations that he had breached guidelines surrounding giving jobs to ministers' partners when Campion was given a promotion past year to leave his office for another government job.

The opposition Labor Party had hoped disaffected lawmakers in Barnaby Joyce's own Nationals party would back their motion, but coalition lawmakers in the House of Representatives held firm and defeated it 73 to 70.

Mathias Cormann will be acting PM.

The announcement comes in the wake of Labor accusing Mr Joyce of breaching ministerial standards by living rent-free, with former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion, in a property in Armidale past year.

Mr Joyce told Parliament he was not aware his administration had made a $5000 payment to Armidale businessman Greg Maguire, who had given the Nationals leader free accommodation when Mr Joyce's marriage collapsed.

The deputy prime minister also apologised to his electorate following negative publicity over his actions.

"Those who believe he has breached ministerial standards or want to believe that, they should actually make the case for where the breach has occurred", he said.

"If the members opposite wish to assert that he has breached a clause in the ministerial standards, then they should say so and identify the clause", he said.

ALP Leader Bill Shorten questioned whether Joyce taking leave means he is incapable of doing his job.

"It would not seem surprising in a multiple-billion-dollar department that I'm not aware of a $5000 payment", Mr Joyce said.

Turnbull said, however, that Joyce had given him an "unequivocal assurance" that he had not breached the words of the un-updated code.

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