4 Mar 2018

Barnaby Joyce says baby paternity a 'grey area'

6:04 pm on 4 March 2018

Australia's former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has cast doubt on whether he is the father of his new partner's baby.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Photo: AFP

Mr Joyce has been quoted by Fairfax media saying the identity of the child's biological father is a "grey area".

In February, the Daily Telegraph revealed Mr Joyce's relationship with his former staffer, Vikki Campion, by publishing a front page story complete with photos of her pregnant, beneath the headline "Bundle of Joyce".

She is due to have the baby in just over a month.

Mr Joyce has conducted a number of interviews about his relationship with Ms Campion but this is the first time he has raised any doubts the child may not be biologically his.

In his interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Joyce points out his travel pattern around the time the baby was conceived in June last year.

He had been on an overseas work trip with his wife Natalie for 10 days from 23 June, followed by a period as acting prime minister during which he is reported to have been "accompanied by close personal protection bodyguards".

Mr Joyce said he would not be getting a paternity test and was planning to raise the child as his own regardless of who the father was.

When the Daily Telegraph first reported the pair was expecting a child together its reporter Sharri Markson insisted she put the question of whether Mr Joyce was the father directly to his office before her story was published.

She said she received no response to that specific question. She said she addressed the same question to Ms Campion and received no response.

Further adding to impressions Mr Joyce is the father, his estranged wife Natalie Joyce released a statement soon after the original story, saying she was deeply saddened by the news her husband was, "having a child with a former staff member".

Mr Joyce resigned as deputy prime minister and leader of The Nationals almost three weeks after the article was published, with questions swirling over the spending of taxpayer money on Ms Campion's jobs within government.

His departure coincided with revelations a West Australian woman had made a sexual harassment and misconduct complaint to The National Party about Mr Joyce.

At the time, a spokesman for Mr Joyce said the allegations were "spurious" and "defamatory".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has deflected attempts to question him about the latest revelation in the Barnaby Joyce affair.

"The matters that are in the papers today relating to Barnaby and Ms [Vikki] Campion are matters for them to resolve," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

"I don't have any comments to make on it at all."

Government frontbencher Greg Hunt dodged repeated questions about Mr Joyce's disclosure during breakfast television interviews this morning.

"I do think that this is a private matter for them, it's not a matter for me to comment on," he told Channel Nine.