Barnaby Joyce says Malcolm Turnbull’s bonk ban led to the end of his prime ministership

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has pinpointed Malcolm Turnbull announcing the infamous ministerial bonk ban as the beginning of the end of his prime ministership.

The controversial policy was announced after Mr Joyce’s extramarital affair with former staffer Vikki Campion, and her resulting pregnancy was exposed by The Daily Telegraph in 2018.

Mr Turnbull, who could not sack the Nationals leader as deputy prime minister, publicly condemned Mr Joyce’s behaviour, before announcing the bonk ban by preventing ministers from having sexual relationships with staffers.

“I remember watching (Mr Turnbull announcing the policy) on television … and I went ‘what’s this dipstick up to’,” Mr Joyce said.

Camera IconBarnaby Joyce resigned as deputy prime minister on February 26, 2018. NCA NewsWire/ Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia
NPC: Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull
Camera IconMalcolm Turnbull was ousted as prime minister just seven months later. NCA NewsWire/ Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The comments were made in the new Sky News documentary Liberals in Power, Part One, which exposes the infighting and tensions during the federal Liberal Party’s nine years in power.

Although Mr Joyce resigned as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister shortly after on February 26, he said his departure also cemented Mr Turnbull’s own demise.

“I remember saying to Peter Dutton ‘look the moment I’m gone as Deputy Prime Minister, Turnbull will be gone within three months,’” he told interviewer Chris Kenny.

“This is an incredibly bombastic egotistical statement but it’s the truth (that) when he lost me, he lost.”

Mr Turnbull, who did not feature in the documentary, would go onto survive a spill from then home affairs minister Peter Dutton later that year on August 21, before being rolled and replaced by then Treasurer Scott Morrison a week later.

Mr Joyce and his wife of 22 years and mother of his four daughters, Natalie Abberfield, divorced. Mr Joyce has had two sons with Ms Campion, with the pair exchanging vows on Sunday.

Camera IconBarnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion married at their family estate in Woolbrook on Sunday. NCA NewsWire/ Ben McDonald Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce, Vikki Campion and their children after Mr Joyce was returned as Deputy Prime Minister. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Joyce gave Mr Turnbull a blistering review of his leadership, and said he got into a rut which saw him become an “ineffectual,” “paranoid” and a “distracted” leader.

“They forget they’re the prime minister, the think they’re the president, and then they think they’re sort of there to run for life and will enter into no discussions,” he said.

“Their coterie of friends become smaller, and smaller, and smaller and they listen too much to too few people.

“That’s what happened to Malcolm”.

Question Time
Camera IconScott Morrison, who rolled Malcolm Turnbull. back his bonk ban policy. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Speaking to Kenny, Mr Morrison, defended the bonk ban as being the “right thing to do”.

“I took a principled stand on this and it was the right stance … Ministers shouldn’t have sex with his staff,” he said.

Federal Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds, who voted for Mr Morrison against Mr Dutton, said Mr Morrison was able to unite the Coalition after a tumultuous period.

“He did, somewhat unexpectedly, but he did,” she said.

“I don’t think anybody else in that circumstance could have done it.”

* Part two of the Liberals in Power airs on Tuesday at 8pm AEDT on Sky News Australia.

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