Millionaire lets Joyce and lover live rent-free
Barnaby Joyce is living rent-free with the mother of his unborn child in an Armidale townhouse owned by a multi-millionaire businessman who is an influential player in New England politics and was once accused of trying to bribe Tony Windsor.
The six-month gift of tenancy, worth about $14,000, was made by self-made local man Greg Maguire, who has had business interests in hotels, freight, and dairy and pastoral outfits, as well as a yacht charter enterprise.
The Weekend Australian also understands Mr Joyce’s new partner, former staffer Vikki Campion, was moved with the approval of Malcolm Turnbull’s office to a senior adviser position on senator Matt Canavan’s staff which delivered her a significant pay rise. The salary band for a senior adviser is up to $191,000 a year. The move was approved after the relationship became the
subject of rumour, prompting Bill Shorten to warn Mr Turnbull the public should be assured there was “nothing untoward”.
Mr Joyce was handed the keys to the three-bedroom, twobathroom townhouse when he was removed from parliament after it was found he was a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen.
Rumours of a marital breakdown between Mr Joyce and his wife of 24 years, Natalie, were confirmed when the New England member returned to parliament and took up his role as Deputy Prime Minister late last year, but it was only this week that it was revealed Ms Campion was pregnant with his child. The Prime Minister yesterday said he was “very conscious of the distress” suffered by Mrs Joyce and her four daughters. Mr Joyce moved out of the family home, near Tamworth in northeast NSW, before the New England byelection on December 2, later moving into the townhouse. The Weekend Australian is not suggesting any wrongdoing on behalf of Mr Maguire or Mr Joyce. Mr Maguire, who has been friends with Mr Joyce for many years, has a long history in New England politics. In 2004, his then friend and independent MP Tony Windsor accused Mr Maguire of attempting to bribe him. Mr Maguire, said to be acting as an intermediary for then Nationals leader John Anderson, told Mr Windsor he had become ineffective as an MP and should “back off” in place of a better candidate.
“Greg Maguire asked Tony Windsor what it would take for him to consider leaving politics and would he be interested in a diplomatic or trade posting overseas,” Mr Windsor’s campaign manager, Stephen Hall, told a Senate inquiry at the time. “Greg Maguire said that either could be arranged.”
The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police, but the case was dropped on the advice of prosecutors who said there was insufficient evidence.
At the same Senate hearing in March 2005, Mr Maguire denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Maguire organised a fundraising dinner for Mr Joyce’s 2013 election bid that then opposition leader Tony Abbott attended.
Neither Mr Maguire nor any company he controls is listed as a donor to the Nationals’ federal division or its NSW branch in any year since the late 1990s. Neither Mr Maguire nor Mr Joyce could be reached for comment yesterday.
The Armidale townhouses where Barnaby Joyce is living