Barnaby Joyce questioned about relationship with former staffer, says he's 'not proud' of marriage breakdown

Barnaby Joyce questioned about relationship with former staffer, says he's 'not proud' of marriage breakdown

Barnaby Joyce questioned about relationship with former staffer, says he's 'not proud' of marriage breakdown

Updated 8 February 2018, 11:00 AEDT

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce calls the end of his marriage "one of the greatest failures of his life", but remains fiercely private about his relationship with a former staff member who is expecting his baby.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has called the end of his marriage "one of the greatest failures of his life" but has remained fiercely private about his relationship with a former staff member who is expecting his baby.

Mr Joyce's wife Natalie has released a statement spelling out her sadness at the news he has been having an affair and is now having a child with the former staff member.

Mr Joyce, appearing on the ABC's 7.30 program, said the break-up with his wife was obviously incredibly painful for everybody involved.

"I'm not proud of it," he said.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper ran a front page photo of Mr Joyce's pregnant former press secretary in a story detailing his new relationship.

That report was widely criticised by all sides of politics and Greens MP Adam Bandt argued it was "disgraceful".

When questioned, Mr Joyce insisted his private life should not be discussed in the public arena.

"I don't think it's right, I don't think it would be right for any other politician," he said.

"I think you have to make a distinct decision to not turn Australia into the United States of America."

His affair with his former press secretary has been the subject of many rumours and he said journalists had been pursuing the issue with numerous freedom of information requests.

"They have FOI'd everything to do with my travel and nothing has been turned up because there's nothing there," he said.

Joyce defends views on same-sex marriage

Mr Joyce denied that he had been hypocritical by arguing for traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage during the debate last year.

He insisted he remained committed to his views about marriage.

"Just because my relationship did not work, it doesn't mean I changed what I think," he said.

Mr Joyce refused to discuss whether the relationship with his former staff member could be questioned because they had worked together.

"I'm not going to go into all the iterations of a private relationship and there's nothing beyond the consensual," he said.

"This is a private matter and everybody's trying to sort of second guess what is a deeply private matter and I am just not going to do that."