Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion chat in the Different Drummer bar in Glebe on February 23, 2017.  Picture: Roger Tavener
Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion chat in the Different Drummer bar in Glebe on February 23, 2017. Picture: Roger Tavener

Barnaby Joyce house hunting day after quitting

NOW it's time for nesting. A day after Barnaby Joyce quit the second-highest political job in the land, he and his heavily pregnant lover Vikki Campion were house hunting, just like any other loved-up couple.

While the fractured National Party factions were jockeying for position in anticipation of tomorrow's leadership spill, the couple responsible for one of the biggest scandals to dog the Turnbull government seems to have already moved on.

The search for a property follows Mr Joyce, 50, declaring on Friday he would stand down as Nationals leader amid a pending investigation into new claims of sexual harassment, allegations he denies.

 

Mr Joyce appears to have Ms Campion’s ear in the Glebe bar a year ago. Picture: Roger Tavener
Mr Joyce appears to have Ms Campion’s ear in the Glebe bar a year ago. Picture: Roger Tavener

 

 

He said he would also move out of the rent-free accommodation he secured from millionaire mate Greg Maguire.

It is a year since the ruddy-faced Tamworth politician and his 33-year-old media adviser crossed the line between being colleagues and lovers in the early hours in the bars of Canberra.

They have remained tight-lipped about exactly how their relationship grew, but sources close to the pair say they bonded over their troubled relationships.

Mr Joyce told her of "feeling trapped" in a "loveless marriage", of "not having sex in five years". Early on in their courtship, he told Ms Campion he was "separated", but still he felt torn about what impact leaving his family would have on his daughters.

For her part, Ms Campion joined Mr Joyce's office three months before her planned November, 2016, wedding to SBS journalist John Bergin, planned after an earlier tumultuous relationship. She called the ceremony off at the last minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both have remained tight-lipped about exactly how their relationship grew. Picture: Roger Tavener
Both have remained tight-lipped about exactly how their relationship grew. Picture: Roger Tavener

 

 

As colleagues began to speculate about their growing closeness, Mr Joyce's "efficient" former chief-of-staff Di Hallam felt increasingly excluded from decision making. Sources said Ms Campion had Mr Joyce's ear.

The relationship between the two women deteriorated further because Ms Hallam disapproved of Ms Campion's drinking habits.

"There are a lot of functions in parliament and Vikki liked to attend them," the source said. "I was told she was reprimanded by Di at one stage."

In turn, Ms Campion described Ms Hallam to colleagues as harbouring a professional jealousy. She believed the senior staffer was colluding with Mr Joyce's wife Natalie in a "smear campaign".

Outside observers noted a growing sense of "chaos and dysfunction" in Mr Joyce's office, which had once run like clockwork. Mr Joyce might arrive late. Ms Campion took time off with migraines. Sometimes Mr Joyce left work early.

 

 

Natalie Joyce angrily confronted Ms Campion in Tamworth, calling her a “homewrecker”.
Natalie Joyce angrily confronted Ms Campion in Tamworth, calling her a “homewrecker”.

 

 

Tensions escalated further in December when Ms Hallam ordered her boss to reveal his romance to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, while seeking Mr Joyce's permission to have his lover moved to the office of then-Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

Mr Joyce has maintained Ms Campion was not his partner while working in his office. But in the four months after she moved to Mr Canavan's staff, he quit his family home. By then it was no longer only colleagues who were aware of the couple's growing affection - an angry Mrs Joyce confronted Ms Campion in Tamworth, accusing her of being "a homewrecker".

The confrontation prompted Mr Joyce to make one last-ditch attempt at reconciliation. In June he took his wife to the Midwinter Ball at Parliament House, and soon after she joined him on an official trip to the UK, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

But it wasn't to last, with some cynics viewing the make-up attempt as a "PR campaign" designed to end gossip about the affair.

 

Mr Joyce told confidants he felt bad for his wife.
Mr Joyce told confidants he felt bad for his wife.

 

 

One of his allies said: "Barnaby has told a few close confidants that he feels bad for Nat, for putting her through all this. Nat doesn't deserve this.

"Natalie did the math and realised he brought Vikki to the family home in Loomberah when she was pregnant and she feels utterly betrayed by them."

Soon after, Mr Joyce and Ms Campion rekindled their relationship. His lover even returned to Mr Joyce's office for up to two weeks after Mr Canavan was forced to resign in July over his citizenship until she was found a job in the office of Nationals MP Damian Drum.

Sources said the pair now appeared closer than ever, with Mr Joyce visiting Ms Campion at home after she left the office with a migraine, despite it being "a busy sitting week".

With increasing media inquiries and political rivals sending staffers to follow them into chemists and doctors' surgeries, Mr Joyce and Ms Campion began to cover their tracks.

Mr Joyce ditched his Comcar driver in preference of a self-drive car, while Ms Campion deactivated her social media accounts and disconnected her phone.

 

Ms Campion snaps a photo of Mr Joyce in April last year. Picture: Louisa Regbetz/ ABC NEWS
Ms Campion snaps a photo of Mr Joyce in April last year. Picture: Louisa Regbetz/ ABC NEWS

 

While not directly confirming the relationship, Ms Campion admitted to those who asked that she had become close to Mr Joyce, describing him as her "best friend" and "the only one I can trust".

Feeling increasingly under siege, Ms Campion said she felt "bullied" and "harassed" while claiming she had been told not to talk to media.

After her Parliament House pass was cancelled, despite being employed by Mr Drum, it is understood Ms Campion went on stress leave, only to make an appearance in Mr Joyce's office during the High Court citizenship decision which forced Mr Joyce to contest a by-election.

Speculation that she might be pregnant was fuelled after it was noticed Ms Campion had stopped smoking and was wearing "maxi dresses", while Mr Joyce had cleared his diary for April.

During the New England by-election, long-time independent rival Tony Windsor cryptically tweeted about the couple's relationship. Other anonymous users were more brazen. It is understood Ms Campion stayed at a property near Singleton during the campaign.

 

Ms Campion has kept a close relationship with her brothers during her relationship with Mr Joyce. Picture: John Grainger
Ms Campion has kept a close relationship with her brothers during her relationship with Mr Joyce. Picture: John Grainger

 

 

In late December, now living in Mr Maguire's townhouse, the pair were photographed holidaying in Palm Cove, where Mr Joyce is alleged to have been overhead ordering the now-heavily pregnant Ms Campion to "hurry up".

The Sunday Telegraph was alerted to the photograph on January 9 and formally asked the pair to come clean about their relationship. The request was acknowledged with a government staffer responding: "They are considering their options."

The two people to whom Ms Campion has kept closest throughout the courtship are her brothers, especially Curtis, with whom she campaigned for same-sex marriage.

Fiercely protective, Mr Campion took to Facebook last week to defend his sister against trolls after she made a comment about her brothers during an interview with Mr Joyce.

"Vikki is my sister and I'm gay. I can tell you personally that she was feeling exhausted after spending weeks fighting for the rights of gays like me to marry," he wrote, before later deleting the comment.

 

Vikki Campion meets an owl during her time as a Daily Telegraph journalist. Picture: Adam Taylor
Vikki Campion meets an owl during her time as a Daily Telegraph journalist. Picture: Adam Taylor

 

 

In the week leading up to Friday's resignation, with Mr Joyce's relationship with Mr Turnbull at its worst despite a staged conciliation meeting, worshippers at St Mary's Cathedral claim to have seen the couple attending a Sunday mass.

They later went to the peaceful holiday town of South West Rocks, where Mr Joyce padded around barefoot in patterned boardshorts and T-shirts with Ms Campion.

One observer noted: "I saw him on Sunday bodyboarding in the sea, I couldn't believe it when he waded out of the water. I said to my wife 'look, there's the deputy prime minister and his new missus'."

He was later seen at a newsagents buying a copy of The Daily Telegraph before the couple walked hand in hand to a nearby Raine & Horne real estate agency.

The next morning, the couple were seen at Shoeys Bakery before they enjoyed a leisurely stroll along Saltwater Creek and Lagoon.

"I was so preoccupied looking at her bump, she was ready to pop, that I accidentally short-changed him by a dollar," a cafe worker said.

"'You ripped me off a dollar', he told me, and we had a laugh about it. I thought he was great."


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