Joyce on notice to 'please explain' affair with staffer


Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Tuesday that he did not break any parliamentary rules while conducting an extramarital affair with a former staffer as he faced down calls for his resignation.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Nationals were allocated a set number of staff positions based on their numbers within the coalition, but how they were allocated was up to them.

And LNP backbencher Ian Macdonald has added to the pressure on Mr Joyce, saying that being acting Prime Minister next week would "take the focus away from where the country is heading".

"It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now", he said.

One of the trips was for Mrs Joyce to attend the Mid Winter Ball in Canberra on June 14, which was reportedly orchestrated to end the damaging rumours about the affair.

Damian Drum was not a minister when she transferred to his office.

He made a public apology to them this morning and defended the two jobs, one for a minister, that his 33-year-old lover Vikki Campion was given after she stopped working for him last year.

"I deeply regret the failure of my 24-year marriage, the tremendous hurt caused to (ex-wife) Natalie and our four daughters and the unwanted public intrusion into what is an intensely private matter for all of us", Joyce told reporters on Tuesday.

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An analysis of Joyce's expenses in the first nine months of 2017 reveals that he has claimed $16,690 in travel allowance for a total of 50 nights in Canberra during non-sitting days, including 10 days as acting prime minister and 40 days on official business as deputy prime minister.

'I would be very surprised if Barnaby Joyce is not on the backbench by this time next week, ' said Hadley on the Today show.

"She was well qualified for the role, was an existing and obviously capable staff member and the change was within the existing Nationals staff arrangement".

But he denied breaching the ministerial code of conduct, which says frontbenchers can not employ "close" relatives or partners or get them work in other ministerial offices "without the prime minister's express approval". Our family life has had to be shared during Barnaby's political career and it was with trust that we let campaign and office staff into our homes and into our lives. He said the alleged incident "did not happen" and had been pedalled by his political enemies for years.

Labor also questioned Mr Joyce over his portfolio responsibilities, with frontbencher Anthony Albanese saying the newly minted infrastructure minister was "simply not up to the job".

Joyce's relationship with his former adviser hit the headlines last Wednesday when the Daily Telegraph published a picture of a pregnant Campion and claimed the pair were now living together and expecting a baby.

In response to a question from ALP Leader Bill Shorten about whether he has "full confidence" that Joyce did not violate ministerial standards, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he believed Joyce was not in a relationship with Campion as defined by the code at the time of her promotion.