Banning sex between politicians and their staff should not be necessary, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared, in response to a call for formal rules to be introduced.
Independent MP Cathy McGowan suggested yesterday that a conversation should begin around the need for rules about relationships between MPs and their staff members.
The debate erupted after the revelation Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was in a new relationship with his former press secretary and was expecting a baby.
His wife, Natalie Joyce, responded to the news by saying the situation was "devastating" for her and the four daughters.
The Prime Minister said this morning that such private matters were always very distressing for those involved.
"I don't want to add to the public discussion about it. I am very conscious of the distress this causes to others, in particular Natalie Joyce and her and Barnaby's daughters," Mr Turnbull said.
When asked if a ban on sex between politicians and staff should be considered, Mr Turnbull said relations between consenting adults were "not normally something you would be justified in seeking to regulate".
But he emphasised the need for personal responsibility.
"Adults, particularly elected officials, Members of Parliament, ministers, all have to be accountable for their actions," Mr Turnbull said.
"Adults can conduct their relationships, if it is consensual, if it is respectful that is their right.
"But all of us have to be accountable for how we live our lives. And Barnaby has been accountable … he has been very upfront about it."
The Prime Minister referred to Mr Joyce's appearance on 7.30 the day the story broke, where he described the breakdown of his marriage as "one of the greatest failures of my life".
Mr Turnbull refused to discuss Mr Joyce's situation, saying he and his wife Lucy Turnbull were "very conscious of the hurt occasioned to Natalie and their daughters in particular".
"So that is why I don't want to contribute to the discussion about it," he said.