Clearly, all of the politicians shocked and appalled at the level of scrutiny being given to the private life of one of their own has never for a second had to function in the administrative hell of subsistence that is Centrelink. If Centrelink could find a way to measure and track the number of shits you did per day, not only would they do it, they’d also find a way to use it to dock your payments.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously claimed that there can’t have been any impropriety on Barnaby Joyce‘s part in Vikki Campion‘s appointments because they technically weren’t partners at the time – a nebulous claim at best. In an incredibly bold move, he decided today to back it up by citing the Centrelink definition of a partner.

Responding to Bill Shorten in Question Time over whether he still has confidence that Joyce’s “allocation of staffing positions meets the high standards expected of his ministers“, Turnbull responded thusly:

The honourable member has not made any case to support the proposition that the staff movements he’s referring to were in breach of the ministerial code. The question of whether the staff member concerned was a partner is a question of fact. As I said in response to the member for Isaacs. The Deputy PM has set out the facts. Members can form their own conclusion about that but I’ve provided the description of partner and it is essentially a cohabitation, a marriage-like relationship, hence the term of marriage or de facto. So I think the circumstances are clear but the honourable member has not been able to establish a breach of the ministerial standards or alleged one. If he wishes to do so he obviously has the opportunity here.

And, yes, technically true: Centrelink would not count them as being “partners“, which is a perfect gotcha if semantics is the only thing that counts. But considering the code is there to prevent ministers from appointing or approving appointments of people with whom they have intimate relationships, it seems like Centrelink’s definition of what being a “member of a couple” entails  would be relevant:

A member of a couple is determined by circumstances including:

  • financial aspects of the relationship
  • nature of the household
  • social aspects of the relationship
  • any sexual relationship
  • nature of the people’s commitment to each other.

Given that it is alleged that the affair has been going on since April of last year, the fact that she was given the social media role in Damian Drum‘s office a few months later in August (Drum has said he believed the affair was “over” at the time), and the fact that she is now visibly heavily pregnant with his child in February 2018, it all seems just a bit suss.

The lesson here? Truly no one is in a position of power important enough to not let horniness ruin their life.

Image: Getty Images / Stefan Postles