Mate created plum role for Barnaby Joyce’s lover
RESOURCES Minister Matt Canavan created a new high-salary job for Barnaby Joyce's girlfriend as the affair created serious dysfunction in the Deputy Prime Minister's office.
Vikki Campion, who is now living with Mr Joyce and is pregnant with his child, was given a new role as a senior adviser in Queensland Senator Canavan's office working on his social and digital media in April last year, even as others within the party became increasingly concerned at the situation.
Mr Canavan, who is a close ally of fellow National party heavyweight Mr Joyce, did not have a full-time staff member in this role prior to Ms Campion's appointment.
There is no suggestion that she did not merit being employed in the new position.
Coalition sources also said Mr Joyce's former chief of staff Diana Hallam was close with Mr Joyce's wife Natalie and ultimately quit her job over the Deputy Prime Minister's refusal to deal with the inappropriate relationship and the dysfunction it had caused inside the office.
The Daily Telegraph understands Mr Joyce's senior Nationals colleagues became aware in February last year about the affair with 33-year-old Ms Campion, his former media adviser and a former Daily Telegraph journalist.
Ms Campion had initially been sent from the office of former NSW Nationals Deputy Premier Troy Grant to work in Mr Joyce's New England campaign in 2016 as a media adviser.
He took her to Canberra shortly afterwards.
There were reports yesterday that Mr Joyce and Ms Campion could often be seen smoking together in the secluded Parliament House garden.
Mr Joyce, 50, confirmed the breakdown of his 24-year marriage to Ms Joyce, the mother of his four children, during the debate over same-sex marriage last year.
A spokeswoman for Mr Canavan declined to comment on "employment matters relating to any staff member".
Ms Campion subsequently moved to the office of chief Nationals whip Damian Drum, remaining employed until the pre-Christmas reshuffle when she received a severance package after Mr Drum was promoted.
There has been no replacement in the social media role in Senator Canavan's office.
However, government source confirmed to the Telegraph that Ms Campion had received a promotion when she joined his office.
Government MPs claim Mr Joyce's personal situation was behind the "vindictive" ministerial reshuffle that saw colleagues who he believed had been gossiping about his affair dumped or overlooked, straining his relationship with the Prime Minister's office.
The Daily Telegraph's revelation of the affair on Tuesday even moved crossbench MPs yesterday to contemplate following the US House of Representatives in explicitly prohibiting relationships between elected members and "any employees of the House that works under (their supervision)".
"There is a belief the Parliament is behind community expectations and corporate practice," independent MP Cathy McGowan said. "The Parliament is a place of work, and good workplace practice includes clear expectations about behaviour."
Ms McGowan is backed by Queensland MP Bob Katter, who told Sky News: "I support the spirit of it most certainly and I think maybe I'll vote for it. You're in such an enormously influential position with staff."
But senior Labor spokesman Mark Dreyfus this morning said legislating a ban was "fraught with difficulty".
"I do think sex in the office is always going to present problems, but whether we need to legislate is quite another question," he said.
Rumours of the affair had circulated Parliament House for months, with Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen on Wednesday declining to comment on the scandal "despite the fact it's been well-known in this building".