Politics

Barnaby Joyce proposes to Vikki Campion four years after headline-making affair | Australian politics

The National party leader, Barnaby Joyce, has proposed to Vikki Campion four years after the high-profile relationship between the deputy prime minister and his political staffer was made public.

The proposal took place at the Latitude 30 restaurant in Coffs Harbour on Sunday night.

Joyce told Guardian Australia that Campion had said yes, and they were both “very happy”. He proposed with a Parti Sapphire ring, with the stone from New England.

“She is really happy, I am really happy and I guess the boys are happy, but they are just the same, no change there really,” he said.

He said that if Campion had said no, “I would still be at Latitude 30 getting smashed”.

He also said his first preference for the proposal had been Noosa, “but everywhere was booked out”.

The pair’s relationship, which began while Joyce was still married, was thrust into the public spotlight after Sydney’s Daily Telegraph published a photograph of a heavily pregnant Campion crossing the road in early 2018.

The report revealed Campion was pregnant with Joyce’s son Sebastian, who was born in April that year, and effectively confirmed the end of Joyce’s 24-year marriage to his wife, Natalie.

Joyce and Campion have since had another son, Thomas, who was born in 2019.

Joyce was criticised at the time by the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for his “shocking error of judgment” that had created a “world of woe” for the women in his life. Joyce was eventually forced to resign as a minister after a separate sexual harassment allegation was made against him.

Joyce said he had resigned even though the allegation was “spurious and defamatory” and an investigation into the complaint by the National party concluded without making any determination “due to insufficient evidence”.

The outspoken MP remained a backbencher until mid-2021 when he successfully mounted a leadership challenge to Michael McCormack, and returned as party leader and deputy prime minister.

Joyce claimed he returned a “better person” after his three years on the backbench, saying “one learns from their mistakes”.

At the time the affair was made public, Campion and Joyce complained about the intrusion into the pair’s privacy, but later did a tell-all interview with Channel Seven, which was reportedly worth $150,000.

The MP for the seat of New England took particular aim at the media for its treatment of Campion, and the paparazzi-style photograph taken of her.

“I thought that’s not who we are in Australia,” Joyce said.

“That’s not the kind of people we are. I’m the public figure, go after me.”

Turnbull also introduced a ban on ministers having sexual relations with their staff following revelations of the affair.

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