SYDNEY – Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Thursday a ban on sexual relationships between the ministers and staffers, a measure taken after the scandal involving the deputy prime minister rocked the nation.
Turnbull said that Barnaby Joyce made a shocking error of judgment over an affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion, with whom he is expecting a child, and which was uncovered by the media last week.
“I have today added to the standards to make a very clear and unequivocal provision; ministers, regardless of whether they are married or single, must not engage in sexual relations with staff. Doing so will constitute a breach of the standards,” said Turnbull.
“I am not here to moralize,” said the prime minister while speaking to the media, adding a clarification that “we must recognize that whatever may have been acceptable or to which a blind eye was turned in the past, today, in 2018, it is not acceptable for a minister to have a sexual relationship with somebody who works for them.”
Joyce, leader of the National Party, a traditional ally of the Liberal Party, separated in 2017 from Natalie Abberfield, whom he married in 1993 and with whom he has four children, and was one of the family values defenders during the campaign for legalization of same-sex marriages last year The manner, in which Joyce, 50, has carried on his relationship with Campion, 33, and broke up his marriage, has been questioned by some National Party members for having damaged the conservative, rural-based party.
The Australian Senate Thursday passed a motion, supported by the Labor Party opponents and Greens, calling for Joyce’s resignation.