Sunday 22 April 2018

Australian PM bans ministers from having sex with staff

Australia’s deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, left, and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AFP/Getty
Australia’s deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, left, and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AFP/Getty

Jonathan Pearlman

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, has banned ministers from having sex with staff and denounced the "appalling" conduct of his deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, who had an affair with an adviser who is now pregnant.

Responding to a damaging scandal that has dominated national headlines for more than a week, Mr Turnbull said Mr Joyce (50), who has four daughters with his wife of 24 years, had made a "shocking error of judgment" by having an affair with a 33-year-old woman working in his office.

"In doing so, he has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Joyce, a social conservative who leads the rural-based National party, the junior member of the ruling coalition, has refused to resign despite pressure from some of his party colleagues.

It emerged last week that Mr Joyce's former media adviser, Vikki Campion, is due to have their baby in April.

Mr Joyce was due to serve as acting prime minister next week during a visit by Mr Turnbull to the United States. But he announced yesterday that he will instead take leave.

Mr Joyce's office said he requested leave because "he wanted to support his family and partner after such intense public focus on personal matters".

However, Mr Joyce has insisted he has not breached the ministerial code of conduct, despite claims he misused travel expenses to spend time in Canberra with Ms Campion.

Mr Turnbull said the code of conduct needed to be updated to ban sex between ministers and staff, saying "no good comes of it".

"In 2018, it is not acceptable for a minister to have a sexual relationship with somebody who works for them," he said.

Irish Independent

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