TV interview was Vikki’s idea: Joyce
BARNABY Joyce says his partner Vikki Campion made the decision to accept $150,000 for a tell-all interview about their new family.
The former Deputy Prime Minister has told The Australian Ms Campion made the decision to accept money from Network Seven for the interview because media organisations were profiting from invading their privacy.
Mr Joyce said he would not have accepted money for the interview if it was only him giving it.
"Remember there are other people in this interview, being Vikki and Seb, so if it was just an interview with me as a politician, sure, I am not going to charge for that," he told The Australian.
"But that is not what they wanted, they wanted an interview obviously to get Vikki's side of the story and like most mothers she said: 'Seeing as I am being screwed over and there are drones and everything over my house in the last fortnight, paparazzi waiting for me, if everybody else is making money then (I am) going to make money out of it'."
Mr Joyce's comments come as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and senior government ministers today publicly criticised his decision to accept money for the interview, which airs on Sunday night.
Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer slammed the move this morning, saying "most Australians are pretty disgusted by it."
Asked on ABC radio whether serving politicians should ever accept money to be accountable to the public, Ms O'Dwyer bluntly said: "No, I don't."
She agreed the interview was a mistake but stopped short of calling for him to cancel it.
"Ultimately it's a matter for him and his judgement," Ms O'Dwyer said.
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"I personally wouldn't do it. I don't think it's right. And I think most Australians are pretty disgusted by it."
Mr Turnbull told Tasmanian radio station 89.3 LAFM Launceston: "It's certainly not a course of action I would have encouraged him to take, let's put it that way."
He refused to comment further, saying the paid TV interview had been "very widely criticised" alreadyand he would be "uncharacteristically circumspect" and speak to Mr Joyce privately about the matter.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Turnbull publicly labelled Mr Joyce's conduct in his affair with his former staffer "appalling" while announcing a so-called 'bonk ban' for ministers and their staffers.
Mr Joyce defended the interview today, telling The Australian he and Ms Campion had "tried everything" to maintain their privacy but "none of that worked".
He said if Australia had stronger privacy laws, the family "would never have had to do this".
"If Malcolm wants to talk to me about introducing a proper tort of privacy I am only too willing about having that conversation," he said.
"We tried everything else, we tried to burn this out and none of that worked."
Mr Joyce also told the publication an attempt to start defamation proceedings against News Corporation only fell over because he was advised that he would lose the case as he had less money than the company.
Most of the former Deputy Prime Minister's fellow Coalition MPs yesterday avoided passing judgement on his decision to accept a six figure payment for an interview with new partner Vikki Campion.
Nationals MP and Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester also said he was "uncomfortable" with "cheque book journalism".
He told ABC radio it would be a "poor result" if it set a precedent for sitting MPs to be paid for interviews.
Mr Chester said the specific circumstances of Mr Joyce's were more complex because his partner Ms Campion was a private citizen, who had "every right" to seek payment to "sell their story".
"But my view is, cheque book journalism isn't great for journalism and I don't think that sitting MPs want to be in a position where the public is questioning whether they've been paid," he said.
Mr Chester yesterday said he supported a ban on sitting MPs accepting payment for interviews.
A poll of News Corp readers yesterday showed 86 per cent of respondents did not think it was appropriate for a sitting MP to accept payment for an interview. Two hundred and seventeen people voted in that poll.
Asked whether it passed the pub test, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Mr Joyce had chosen to "go down this path" and the people of New England would decide.
Mr McCormack, who replaced Mr Joyce as Nationals leader after he resigned over the scandal surrounding his affair with Ms Campion earlier this year, said the court of public opinion would always determine whether a politician had crossed the line.
"I wouldn't do it. That's a personal matter for Barnaby. And whilst you're a serving member of Parliament you have to wonder about the merit of these things," he told ABC radio.
Mr McCormack said Mr Joyce's interview was not an issue that regional Australians spoke to him about.
But pushed to respond, he said: "Of course public accountability is an important thing to uphold. And look at the end of the day, the court of public opinion will always determine whether or not a politician has crossed the line. At the end of the day, we're accountable to the electorates who we serve."
He said he would speak to Mr Joyce today and the interview was likely to come up.
The interview will air on Channel 7 this Sunday night.
"This is Ms Campion's first interview since details of her relationship with Mr Joyce were made public," the Seven Network's Sunday Night program tweeted.
Mr Joyce was forced to quit his leadership role when the scandal over his affair broke earlier this year. Ms Campion gave birth to their son Sebastian in April.
- with AAP