Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (pictured above) on Thursday prohibited sexual relations between ministers and their staff, while he denounced the affair between his deputy and an adviser, BBC reported. Turnbull said Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who has four daughters with his wife of 24 years, had made a “shocking error of judgment”. Joyce is expecting a child with his former staffer in April.
Turnbull said the scandal had prompted overdue changes to the ministerial conduct rules, Reuters reported. He announced new standards which will take effect as off Thursday.
“Ministers must behave accordingly,” Turnbull told reporters. “They must not have sexual relations with their staff – that’s it. Barnaby made a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office. In doing so, he has set off a world of woe for those women, and appalled all of us. Our hearts go out to them.”
He said it is a very bad workplace practice for ministers to have sex with their staff and no good comes of it. “Ministers should be very conscious that their spouses and children sacrifice a great deal so they can carry on their political career. Their families deserve honour and respect,” he said.
Joyce will take a leave of absence from Monday as he refused to resign from the post despite pressure from Opposition members as well as some of his party colleagues. Both Turnbull and Joyce denied that any rules were broken.
Joyce’s office said he had requested leave after “intense public focus on personal matters”, The Telegraph reported.