Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has hit back at the ‘‘salami-slicing’’ of his private life after revelations he is having a baby with a former staffer.
A photograph of Mr Joyce’s pregnant partner Vikki Campion, 33, on the front page of The Daily Telegraph has triggered a fierce debate about whether the image and accompanying article are an invasion of privacy or matter of public interest.
Mr Joyce, 50, broke his silence on the scandal during an interview on national television on Thursday night.
‘‘I can’t quite fathom why basically a pregnant lady walking across the road deserves a front page,’’ he told ABC TV.
‘‘I think once we start going through this salami-slicing of a private life, where does it end?’’
Mr Joyce said there was no evidence that he had used taxpayer dollars for trips to conduct a relationship with the staffer.
‘‘I’ll say up front that one of the greatest failures in my life was the end of my marriage,’’ Mr Joyce said.
His former wife, Natalie Joyce, said her husband’s former media adviser had been a welcome visitor to the family home.
‘‘Naturally we feel deceived and hurt by the actions of Barnaby and the staff member involved,’’ Mrs Joyce said.
‘‘The situation for myself and the girls has been made worse by the fact it’s been played out in public at this time.’’
Rumours of the affair and pregnancy surfaced during the by-election in Mr Joyce’s New England seat in October but weren’t publicly confirmed.
After winning the by-election, Mr Joyce told Federal Parliament his 24-year marriage was over.
The couple has reportedly moved in together and the baby is due in April.
‘‘It’s something I view as none of my business,’’ Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said.
‘‘This ricochets and affects families. There’s a principle here that I’ve always abided by, to not engage in anything that hits the private lives of other members of parliament.’’
Greens MP Adam Bandt agreed.
‘‘I don’t really care who Barnaby Joyce or anyone else is sleeping with,’’ he told Sky News.
However, gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome unloaded on ‘‘hypocrite’’ Mr Joyce, who had opposed legalising same-sex marriage.
‘‘You can’t put the lives of tens of thousands of your fellow citizens under the microscope and then expect to avoid scrutiny yourself,’’ Mr Croome said.
Mr Joyce denied he was a hypocrite.
‘‘I am not going to say therefore just because I failed I’m going to completely change my views and definition,’’ he said.