Joyce Blames New Partner Vikki Campion For Paid Interview
"I think most Australians are pretty disgusted by it," finance minister Kelly O'Dwyer said.
Barnaby Joyce has squared blame at new partner Vikki Campion for accepting payment for an upcoming interview, after a morning where ministers in both the Liberal and National parties took taken the rare step of publicly admonishing one of their own.
Finance minister Kelly O'Dwyer said most Australians would be "disgusted" Barnaby Joyce was accepting $150,000 for a media interview about his affair with a staffer that produced a child, while Nationals member and veterans affairs minister Darren Chester -- who was previously dumped from the ministry over disagreements with Joyce -- floated support for a law to ban politicians from taking such payments.
Joyce, who resigned as deputy Prime Minister in February after an affair with staffer Vikki Campion was revealed, will sit down for a tell-all interview with Channel Seven in coming weeks. It has been reported he will receive a $150,000 payment for his time, which will be diverted into a trust fund for his baby son Sebastian, who was born in April.
The Australian newspaper reported on Tuesday morning that Joyce claimed Campion -- his former staffer, current partner and mother to his son -- made the decision to accept money for the Seven interview. Joyce claimed that he would not charge for an interview with him alone, but noted that Campion would be involved in the interview too.
"They wanted an interview obviously to get Vikki’s side of the story and like most mothers she said: ‘Seeing as I am being screwed over and there are drones and everything over my house in the last fortnight, paparazzi waiting for me, if everybody else is making money then (I am) going to make money out of it’," Joyce said.
Much of the media reporting and criticism -- including from ten daily executive editor Lisa Wilkinson -- has been devoted to the morality of Joyce taking payment for revealing details of the affair which saw him lose his job. Questions also remain regarding use of travel entitlements while Campion was employed by Joyce's office and, later, the offices of his Nationals colleagues Matt Canavan and Damian Drum.
However, most politicians have stayed mum on Joyce's decision to accept the interview fee, with even the Labor opposition mostly refusing to comment.
On Tuesday though, Joyce received a double-barrelled attack from Coalition colleagues, with finance minister O'Dwyer telling the ABC she didn't think it was right for Joyce to accept payment for the interview.
"Ultimately it's a matter for him and his judgement. I personally wouldn't do it. I don't think it's right, and I think most Australians are pretty disgusted by it," she told ABC Radio's AM program.
She repeated the comments in a later Sky News interview.
Chester, the minister for veterans affairs and minister for defence personnel, was briefly dumped from the ministry in December in what many perceived as a personal slight by Joyce. He has since returned to the ministry, and on Tuesday, he too let loose on the former Nationals leader in an interview with the ABC.
"I’m uncomfortable about cheque book journalism and uncomfortable about the idea of sitting MPs getting paid. I am not getting paid to be on your show. In the longer term, do we want to see sitting members of parliament paid to turn up on radio and TV programs?" he said in an interview.
"But my view is cheque book journalism isn’t great for journalism, and I don’t think that sitting MPs want to be in a position where the public is questioning whether they’ve been paid."
Chester said the situation was "unprecedented" in his time in parliament, and in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, floated the idea of politicians being banned from receiving payment for media opportunities.
"This is unprecedented in my time in Parliament and I’m open to the conversation about banning MPs from benefiting personally from selling stories to the media. We need to have a closer look at it," he told the Telegraph.
On Monday, Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese raised a similar idea, saying he believed politicians should not be paid for media interviews.
"As parliamentarians we’re paid by the Australian public to do our job. Part of that job is media interviews such as this and I don't think that parliamentarians should be paid for media interviews, full stop," he said.
"I think that is a pretty important principle. That's my personal view. It's one that I've always engaged in and certainly it's up to Mr Joyce to explain why it is that principle is being breached."