Barnaby Joyce says he clung to his job as scandal swirled “more from spite than logic” and has labelled parliamentary colleagues who recommended his pregnant mistress terminate her pregnancy as the “scum of the earth”.
The former deputy prime minister has also admitted he knew it was inevitable he must step down but still contested a by-election months after he found out Vikki Campion was expecting.
Only history will be the judge of the strength of their relationship but – despite pressure from some among those around Parliament “who are supposed to be conservatives” – Ms Campion says the first sight of baby Sebastian Curtis Scott Joyce made the madhouse months leading up to the birth worthwhile.
“As soon as a saw him and held him it was just that… everything was worth it for this,” she said.
In a raw interview with Channel 7’s Sunday Night program Ms Campion said her pregnancy was a “miracle” after she had previously been told by doctors she would never have children.
The media and political frenzy around the former Deputy Prime Minister and his staffer-turned-partner was the toughest test possible for any relationship. It forced Ms Campion to give birth in secret in a bare hospital room with little support, she said.
Even family and friends were barred from sending flowers, lest the media be tipped the birth had occurred and descend in force.
“The midwives were just incredible and they were super protective and they seemed to be the only people to me at that point who realised that there was an innocent little baby that's been caught up in this whole thing - and they went above and beyond to keep everything closed and we managed to not let anyone know, managed to keep it quiet,” she said.
Ms Campion apologised to Mr Joyce’s family — who the former Nationals leader admitted had been badly hurt by the scandal – but said “you can’t help who you fall in love with”.
It was clear from the interview that Mr Joyce is still holding grudges against many in Canberra, admitting he only held on to his position as Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister to defy the critics who wanted him gone, despite knowing he would inevitably have to resign.
“I knew that the day would come that I had to step down,” he said.
“I suppose towards the end I was fighting more out of spite than logic, and just thinking I’m not going to let these people beat us.”
Despite this awareness of his situation, Mr Joyce still contested - and won - a New England by-election in December.
Mr Joyce again lashed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who delivered a public dressing down to his deputy in February, ahead of Mr Joyce’s decision to step down as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister.
“Generally what happens in these things is you admonish someone privately and you support them publicly. That's the golden rule and and you know this was all back to front,” he said.
But Mr Joyce reserved his strongest criticism for the colleagues – not named in the interview – who tried to talk Ms Campion into terminating the pregnancy.
“People within the Parliament came to me they said, ‘you’re pregnant and you have to get an abortion’,” Ms Campion said.
“I said, ‘It’s too late, it has a heartbeat’ and they said ‘If you don’t, they’re going to come after you’ and ... they did.”
“They did,” Mr Joyce said. “That’s the absolute scum of the earth people you involve yourself with.
“There is something insidious and dark and horrible that happens inside that mad boarding school and their contribution to it is they’re going to try and make an incredibly difficult situation almost unbearable, by saying to that woman ‘you will do this if you want a career in this place’.”
Ms Campion said she faced down an agonising decision, and nearly decided in favour of termination.
“I bought the medicine online,” she said.
“You can’t do it in the ACT. I drove interstate, I walked in and I walked out again.”
While Mr Joyce admitted he stayed on at least partly to defy his critics, he said he’d always known the affair and Ms Campion’s pregnancy would force his eventual resignation.
This article originally appeared on PerthNow.