Barnaby’s excuse for selling tell-all interview
LESS than a week away from pocketing a $150,000 pay cheque for his tell-all interview with Vikki Campion, Barnaby Joyce has responded to the crushing controversy.
Speaking to reporters in Canberra earlier today, Mr Joyce said he'd agreed to do the Sunday Night interview after realising the media frenzy around his and his former staffer's relationship wouldn't "burn out".
"We tried for privacy. In the last fortnight we've had drones over our house. We've had paparazzi waiting for us outside Armidale airport. We tried just burning this out and that didn't work," Mr Joyce said, according to 9 News.
Mr Joyce has drawn criticism from politicians and the public after it was announced he would be pocketing the whopping sum for his exclusive interview with the Channel 7 program.
When the former deputy prime minister was asked if he thought it was appropriate to accept money, he said: "I didn't. It's an interview not just with me, it's with Vikki."
Mr Joyce has previously said the $150,000 will be put in a trust fund for his and Ms Campion's new son Sebastian.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he intends to raise the issue with his former deputy in private.
"It's not something that I would have encouraged him to do, in fact quite the contrary," Mr Turnbull told Tasmanian radio station LAFM.
The controversial interview, airing this Sunday night, has prompted calls for a ban on serving politicians receiving cash for media comment.
Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer told ABC radio she stopped short of calling for Mr Joyce to pull the pin on the interview but said she believes most Aussies are "disgusted" by it.
"Ultimately it's a matter for him and his judgment. 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 this morning.
Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek doubted a ban on politicians receiving cash for comment would be the solution, likening it to a prohibition on sleeping with staff.
"If common sense and common decency don't tell you that these things are the wrong thing to do, I don't think a ban is going to fix the problem," Ms Plibersek told reporters.
On Monday, Nationals senator John Williams, a good friend of the former deputy prime minister, said he would judge Mr Joyce on his work for the people of his New England electorate.
"What he does with his private life with him and Vikki and his son Sebastian, that's up to him to decide, it's not for me to judge," Mr Williams told ABC radio.
Nationals frontbencher Darren Chester, who was dumped by Mr Joyce from cabinet in December, said he intends to discuss the proposed ban with colleagues at the next party room meeting.
"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," Mr Chester told The Daily Telegraph.
"We need to have a closer look at it."
The minister acknowledged the circumstances were complex given Mr Joyce's partner Vikki Campion was entitled to seek payment as a private citizen.
However, Mr Chester said the former Nationals leader could no longer complain about a breach of privacy after agreeing to the paid interview.
- With Wires