BARNABY Joyce’s senior colleagues have slapped down his call for partners of federal politicians to be allowed to work together in Canberra.
The former deputy prime minister and his partner, former staffer Vikki Campion, welcomed their baby boy last week at Armidale Hospital in NSW.
Sebastian is the fifth child and first son for Mr Joyce, and Ms Campion’s first child.
As he enjoys time with his new son, Mr Joyce said partners of federal politicians should be allowed to work for MPs in the nation’s capital. He believes it would help keep families together and would not amount to a conflict of interest.
“Canberra’s a weird place,” Mr Joyce told ABC TV.
“It’s like a big old boarding school up on the hill … Everyone travels from miles away to get there.
“And we should be allowing partners, as much as possible, to be there as well.
“It’s insane to think that if she (Vikki) did want to work for me, she couldn’t.”
“We should be allowing partners, as much as possible, to be there as well. Otherwise you have this dichotomy, this dysfunctional dichotomy where you have one life in Canberra, another life at home,” he added.
Acting prime minister Michael McCormack rejected the call today, saying he agreed with government policy that partners and family members were not allowed to work in offices. “Quite frankly, I don’t think my wife would want to work with me,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Cabinet minister Michael Keenan said the rules were changed a couple of years ago for a reason.
“It’s not best practice for people to be employing their family members in any workplace, quite frankly,” he said.
Mr Joyce quit as deputy prime minister in February after 16 days of scandal over his affair with Ms Campion, his former media adviser.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later introduced a ban on ministers having sexual relations with their staff.
In his first major interview since the birth of his son, Mr Joyce last night said he was focusing on his family.
“Seb, Vikki and I went out to the national park today. We went down to the footy yesterday,” Mr Joyce told ABC television on Sunday night.
“We’re just enjoying our own company, trying to be a family and hanging around the dinner table. I really enjoy that.”
Mr Joyce is still married but separated from his first wife, Natalie. They had four girls together: Julia, Caroline, Odette and Bridgette.
He has stayed on as the member for New England on the back bench.
When he resigned, Mr Joyce said a “circuit-breaker” was needed to stop the fallout of his affair for his partner, for his unborn son, his four daughters, and estranged wife.
“This has got to stop. It’s not fair on them,” he said.
“I won’t snipe. I have a lot of things I need to do.
“I want to assist my colleagues where I can to keep their seats and also, quite naturally, in April, a baby will be born.
“I’ll have other things on my mind.”