Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has defended accepting money for a “tell all” interview with himself and partner Vikki Campion – an interview that’s dividing opinion.
Joyce said it was the mother of his child that signed the deal with Seven’s Sunday Night, and it’s their little boy who will receive the money.
Joyce claims the media was already profiting off his privacy, so it made sense for his family to have a cut too.
His relationship with Ms Campion, his former media adviser, is the biggest personal scandal in modern Australian politics.
Now the nation hears, for the first time, from the woman at the centre.
“You can’t help it. You can’t help who you fall in love with,” Ms Campion reveals in the interview.
She will tell her story on Sunday Night as her partner feels the political heat.
Asked if he thought he should have taken money for the interview, he told 7 News: “I didn’t. It’s an interview not just with me. It’s with Vikki.”
Joyce said the undisclosed payment is going into trust for their son, Sebastian, and he has lost patience with those accusing him of hypocrisy.
“We tried for privacy. The last fortnight we’ve had drones over our house. We’ve had paparazzi waiting for us outside Armadale Airport.
“We’ve had people following us to Uralla. We tried just burning this out and that didn’t work,” he added.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told LAFM radio Joyce didn’t ask his opinion on doing the interview.
“It’s not a course of action I would have encouraged him to take,” Mr Turnbull said.
The Prime Minister’s view was shared by new Nationals leader and Deputy PM, Michael McCormack.
“I wouldn’t do it, that’s a personal matter for Barnaby,” he said.
Nationals MP Darren Chester, dumped from cabinet under Joyce’s leadership, now supports a ban on MPs taking money for interviews.
“The complexities around this individual case shouldn’t be a reason not to look at the broader issue,” he told 7 News.
Labor has avoided critical comment so far, but is capitalising in other ways, like a question to Turnbull today about Joyce’s tax views, dripping with ridicule.
“Does the Prime Minister agree with the free advice offered by the member for New England?” Labor MP Chris Bowen asked.
Minister For Women Kelly O’Dwyer disapproved of the move, saying: “I personally wouldn’t do it. I don’t think it’s right and many Australians are disgusted by it.”
Joyce however defended the backlash, inviting Australians to stay tuned to Sunday Night to find out what he had to say.
“They’ll have a whole range of ways to feel about it after they’ve watched it,” he said.