Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce wants an overhaul to the hiring regulations at Parliament House, so politicians can work alongside their partners.
Speaking with ABC’s National Wrap after the birth of his son Sebastian last week, Mr Joyce has promised to do everything he can to be a good father, and believes that starts with changing the culture of politics.
“Canberra is a weird place,” he said.
“It’s like a big old boarding school up on a hill in the middle of Canberra … and we should be allowing partners as much as possible to be there as well. Otherwise you have this dysfunctional dichotomy where you have one life in Canberra, another life at home … [and] after a decade it just does not work and things fall apart. I don’t want that to happen again.”
Mr Joyce split from his wife Natalie last year and is now in a relationship with his former media adviser Vikki Campion, who gave birth to Sebastian a week ago.
The former deputy prime minister thinks marriages can be saved if the employment rules at Parliament House are changed.
‘I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest’
Working alongside your partner or sibling is common practice in some family businesses, but in politics it is not allowed.
The Members of Parliament Staff Act states Senators and MPs cannot hire their partner, children, parent or sibling.
“This is insane that a partner who probably knows more about your office than anyone else can’t work in your office,” he said.
“If they are qualified to do the job, if they have the qualifications, then why not allow them to do it?”
However, he said he does not believe his ex-wife would have wanted to work with him, nor would Ms Campion want to come back to his office.
“I don’t think Vikki would want to work for me to be quite frank … but it is insane to think that if she did want to work for me, she couldn’t.”
Mr Joyce dismissed suggestions that such changes would result in a conflict of interest.
“No I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest. So often in this game people expect you to turn up as a couple. They expect you to turn up as family.”
"I know it's peculiar circumstances, and I know people have their pluses and minuses about it, but I'm going to try and do the best job I possibly can," @Barnaby_Joyce tells @PatsKarvelas about his new baby #NationalWrap. #auspol pic.twitter.com/srtCXLkU4k
— ABC News (@abcnews) April 22, 2018
Mr Joyce said he was supposed to be taking time off work following the birth of Sebastian, but he’s still been speaking to the media.
“I can’t help myself,” he said.
Mr Joyce said he took Ms Campion and Sebastian to a National Park and they also attended a local footy match over the weekend.
“We are just enjoying our own company and just trying to be a family and hang around the dinner table which I really enjoy,” he said.
“I know it is peculiar circumstances … but I’m going to try the very best job I possibly can and make sure that Seb has the very best dad he can possibly get.”
Mr Joyce has four daughters with his former wife Natalie Joyce.