Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion, the mother of his unborn child, believe it’s time to “move on” after a tumultuous fortnight during which their relationship was made public.
In their first interview as a couple, Mr Joyce, 50, and Ms Campion, 33, also revealed they’ll have to leave their rent-free apartment in Armidale, NSW, to protect their privacy.
The Nationals leader told Fairfax Media that questions about their private life had bordered on maliciousness. ”It’s like ‘I can’t get you so I’m gonna throw anything’,” he said.
Mr Joyce, who has four daughters with his estranged wife of 24 years, Natalie, also confirmed their baby due in April is a boy.
“The one thing that has deeply annoyed me is that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children, and it’s almost spoken about in the third person,” he said.
“I love my daughters. I have four beautiful daughters and I love them to death. And now I will have a son.”
Ms Campion, who refused to be photographed during the Fairfax interview, gave only one on-the-record comment to say her son’s middle names would honour her two brothers.
She also rejected suggestions she was paid up to $190,000 while working for two Nationals MPs after she left Mr Joyce’s office in 2017 and produced pay slips showing she earned between $133,000 and $138,000, Fairfax said.
Mr Joyce is currently on personal leave as he fends off calls for him to step down as Nationals leader or leave politics after his extramarital affair was made public.
Acting prime minister Mathias Cormann again admitted the scandal has been a distraction for the government.
But he reminded people there are human beings at the centre, who are trying to move on.
Senator Cormann, who is filling in for Malcolm Turnbull who is in the US, said he has been able to speak to the deputy prime minister after first leaving him a voicemail.
“We had a very good conversation. He was cooking spaghetti at the time we talked,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“Some of the public pressure is incredibly intense not just on Barnaby but also his family, his kids and his new partner, and yes it’s a distraction for the government but there’s some human beings involved.”