Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Ministers must not have sex with staff, Turnbull declares

Ministers must not have sex with staff, Turnbull declares

While the motion was defeated 73 votes to 70, Mr Joyce was left in a position to defend his personal circumstances that resulted in his previous living arrangement.

Later on Thursday, Turnbull revealed changes to ministerial rules as a response to Joyce's "shocking error of judgement". "In doing so, he has said off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us".

Mr Joyce has 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".

The ministerial code will be updated to reflect government ministers must exercise judgment, recognize the public has high expectations of them and that "regardless of whether they are married or single must not engage in sexual relations with their staff", Mr Turnbull said.

Labor is seeking to ramp up pressure on Barnaby Joyce as the deputy prime minister appears to have warded off a push by a small number of Nationals to oust him.

And things were set to get even more embarrassing next week when Turnbull jets off to the United States, leaving Joyce to perform the role of Acting Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has publicly stood by his deputy, who as leader of the junior party in the governing coalition would be acting prime minister when Turnbull travels overseas.

Joyce's explanations regarding Campion's staffing jobs have been pretty weak, and he's facing fresh scrutiny over his relationship with the businessman who is currently paying his rent for him in the Armidale house he now shares with Campion.

Opposition parties stepped up their attacks on Mr Joyce on Thursday, calling on him to resign.

Mathias Cormann will be acting PM.

Labour accused him of breaching ministerial standards by asking for a place to live, and in effect receiving a gift of not paying rent for six months.

"Ministers should be very conscious that their spouses and children sacrifice a great deal so they can carry on their political career and their families deserve honour and respect", he said.

The situation was about to get very, very awkward, but thankfully Joyce and Turnbull have come up with a cheeky little solution.

Liberal Party leader Turnbull agreed with Joyce that no rules had been broken, but said he will "have to consider his own position" as deputy and leader of the National Party, straining the alliance between the two governing parties.

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Mr Joyce was due to step in as acting prime minister while Mr Turnbull was away, in line with usual convention.

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