The Australian Prime Minister on Thursday ordered the ban on sex between ministers and their staff in response to the storm caused by the extra-marital relationship of his deputy with his former assistant now pregnant.
Malcolm Turnbull announced this change to the Ministerial Code of Good Conduct at an extraordinary press conference during which he fired on Barnaby Joyce.
The deputy prime minister is guilty of “causing extreme pain and humiliation” to his wife and four daughters, he accused.
Mr. Joyce, 50, is in turmoil since the revelation last week of his affair with a colleague of nearly 20 years his youngest, who is now waiting for her child.
He is accused of contravening the government’s rules by appointing him to a cabinet and calls for his resignation are increasing.
“Barnaby made a shocking mistake in maintaining an affair with a young woman working in his office,” he said. “In doing so, he plunged these women into a world of misfortune and we are all dismayed. We are wholeheartedly with them. It was terrible for them to be in the spotlight. ”
Mr. Joyce is the leader of the National Party, one of the pillars of the conservative coalition formed with Mr. Turnbull’s Liberal Party. He had gained international notoriety by threatening to euthanize the dogs of American star Johnny Depp who had entered Australia illegally.
Turnbull also told parliament that his deputy would take a leave next week, which would mean he would not be in charge of doing business during a four-day visit to the United States. Mr. Turnbull will be replaced in his absence by Senate Chief Mathias Cormann.
This break will allow Mr. Joyce “to evaluate his own position,” said the Prime Minister. The latter could dismiss his deputy, but that would risk dividing the ruling coalition.
“I’m not here to lecture”
Barnaby acknowledged an extramarital affair with Vikki Campion, his 33-year-old former media advisor. His wife Natalie – of whom he is now separated after 24 years of marriage – and his four daughters said they were devastated.
Times have changed and people expect the political class to lead by example, “said the Prime Minister.
I’m not here to lecture. But no matter what the acceptable business or the things that we closed our eyes in the past, today, in 2018, it is not acceptable for ministers to have sex with people who work for them.
The code of conduct is therefore amended to make it very clear that “ministers, whether single or married, should not have sex with their employees”.
Mr. Joyce denies any violation of the Minister’s Code of Conduct, which states that “spouses” of ministers can not obtain positions in ministerial offices without the express permission of the Prime Minister.
Ms. Campion had two positions, one in a ministerial cabinet and the other in a parliamentarian after she stopped working for Mr. Joyce last year.
The deputy prime minister is also accused by the opposition of violating this code of good conduct by agreeing to live for free in a millionaire friend’s apartment after the collapse of his marriage.
Labor accuses him of having asked to live in this house and therefore, to have accepted a gift, six months of free occupation. Mr. Joyce assures that the apartment was offered to him and did not ask to live there.
Mr. Joyce had found himself entangled a few months ago in a case of dual nationality that led to the resignation of a slew of parliamentarians, threatening the meager government majority in the House of Representatives.
He was re-elected in a by-law after appearing as a champion of conservative values such as marriage.