Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi says Barnaby Joyce is not the only Turnbull government minister caught having sexual relations with a person who was a member of their staff.
While the South Australian Senator has refused to name names, he told ABC radio this morning he prefers self-governance to Prime Minister Turnbull’s ban on ministers sleeping with their staff, and said it was self-evident that such relationships should not be happening.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to do that, but then, self-evidently, the standards by which I’m holding myself, or which I expect of others, have not been met by those within some of the ministerial ranks, and I make this point that it’s not just Barnaby Joyce that we could be discussing,” he said.
Asked whether he was saying other ministers were having sexual relations with their staff, Senator Bernardi said, “Yes”.
“We’ll leave that in the fullness of time, but it says to me that there is a problem there,” he said.
The Prime Minister's new Ministerial Code of Conduct bans ministers having sexual relations with staff - a policy position that the Opposition Leader agreed to support yesterday.
Asked whether Mr Joyce should resign after having an affair with his pregnant former press secretary, Senator Bernardi said there were three options.
“One is Barnaby resigns, and that’s entirely in his purview. He’s said he’s not going to do that; Two, that the National Party have a leadership spill, and that’s entirely up to the National Party; Or three, he stays,” he said.
“What I can say is that this is doing enormous damage, I think, to the government. It is sucking all the oxygen out of any agenda that they want to put forward. It is damaging the National Party, and I would only urge them to rule a line under it, make a decision one way or another, and then tough it out and proceed whatever that decision is, because Australia simply can’t afford to get side-tracked by these issues,” Senator Bernardi said.