Barnaby Joyce has ramped up his calls for more stringent privacy laws after arguing with a photographer on the street a week after giving a $150,000 television interview.
The former Nationals leader denies the photographer’s claims he had shaped up to throw a punch at the man, who Mr Joyce said was “hiding in the bushes” outside a church on Sunday.
Mr Joyce said he accepted public figures would get media attention, but laws needed to be changed to protect people like his partner Vikki Campion and the couple’s baby son Sebastian from paparazzi.
“These people have the capacity to destroy someone’s life,” Mr Joyce told Sunrise on Monday.
He said Ms Campion, his former media adviser, had been harassed for months after it was revealed in February that Mr Joyce was having an affair with Ms Campion, who was pregnant with their child.
“Private individuals, kids especially, should have greater protections than what they’ve got. They haven’t got any,” Mr Joyce said.
“If someone was hiding outside your house, and they didn’t identify themselves, would you go up and say g’day to them?”
The former deputy prime minister first called for a “tort of privacy” in his infamous paid interview with Seven’s Sunday Night program.
He said the couple did the interview in the hope it would be a “circuit-breaker” which would end the intense scrutiny on their private lives.
“We certainly wouldn’t have done the interview if we thought it was just going to continue on, obviously it is,” Mr Joyce said.
Last week, Mr Joyce insisted he was entitled to lobby NSW Nationals to vote against a bill to provide “safe zones” around the state’s abortion clinics that would make it an offence to film staff and patients without their consent.
Sunrise’s David Koch accused Mr Joyce of “double-standards”.
“Well, if we had a proper tort of privacy that would protect people going into abortion clinics, absolutely,” Mr Joyce said.
“Because you wouldn’t be able to go up and harass somebody.”
He also denied he had “changed his tune” on the matter and has always been pro-life.
Mr Joyce has answered 79 questions from an expenses watchdog about whether he used taxpayers’ money on trips with Ms Campion.
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Ms Campion, who gave birth to the couple’s son last month, has responded to 57, the ABC reports.
The official audit of expenses by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority began on February 7, the day photos of a pregnant Ms Campion were published.
Investigations are continuing and both Mr Joyce and Ms Campion deny any wrongdoing.
Despite being on two weeks of medical leave, Mr Joyce has been unable to stay out of the headlines.