Today, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce issued a statement in which he declared that he was not in an intimate relationship with staffer Vikki Campion while she worked in his office, and that their intimacy began after she was moved to a job invented for her in Senator Matt Canavan’s office, with a salary of some $190,000 a year.
I did not discuss these matters with the Prime Minister or his office as Vikki was not my partner, so they were dealt with in the usual course of staff deployments within the party.
The Ministerial Code of Conduct Section 2.23 states:
Ministers’ close relatives and partners are not to be appointed to positions in their ministerial or electorate offices, and must not be employed in the offices of other members of the Executive Government without the Prime Minister’s express approval. A close relative or partner of a Minister is not to be appointed to any position in an agency in the Minister’s own portfolio if the appointment is subject to the agreement of the Minister or Cabinet.
Joyce’s denial of his relationship with Campion is his attempt to circumvent the ministerial regulations, and to protect Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Canavan from serious allegations of breaching the guidelines.
In this piece titled “How Vikki Campion came to work for Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce,” Malcolm Farr gives background to the affair:
Inside the Joyce office there were other clues and they were quickly picked up by the minister’s highly respected chief of staff Di Hallam.
Ms Hallam took two important steps: She sent Mr Joyce to the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reveal the romance and Ms Campion was moved to the office of then Resources Minister Matt Canavan in late 2016.
“Clearly they thought her presence would be a problem, so she (Ms Hallam) made a decision,” said a source familiar with the situation.
In 2016, the affair was far more than a “rumour.” It was considered so serious that the Prime Minister was advised, and Ms Campion was moved to Canavan’s office to get her out of the way.
As Farr acknowledges: … the romance, by its very existence, became part of the delivery of public policy and taxpayer-funded staffing.
Joyce’s claim that the affair did not start until after Campion was moved to Canavan’s office contradicts Farr’s account, and the account of the source who identified Di Hallam as a key player in the removal of Campion from Joyce’s office. Ms Hallam is also alleged to have instructed Joyce to inform Turnbull of the situation.
Clearly, this is not a matter of someone getting the story wrong. Someone is lying. The liar is either Barnaby Joyce, Malcolm Farr, Malcolm Turnbull, or Farr’s source.
It is absolutely unacceptable that we should be left in a situation in which we have no idea whether or not the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister Canavan breached ministerial guidelines, and furthermore, are lying to parliament and to the country.
It is absolutely unacceptable that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister imply that senior journalist Farr, and highly respected public servant Di Hallam, are lying, without providing evidence that this is so.
This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.