Bill Shorten has urged Malcolm Turnbull to provide an assurance there was “nothing untoward” in the internal staff movements of Barnaby Joyce’s partner, Vikki Campion, after the Prime Minister’s office approved a move to a more senior position with a pay rise.
The Weekend Australian understands Ms Campion, who is pregnant to Mr Joyce, was moved into a position as a senior adviser in senator Matt Canavan’s office last April. Turnbull government sources yesterday said the job swap approved by the Prime Minister’s office saw her elevated from Mr Joyce’s media adviser to Senator Canavan’s senior adviser until the dual-citizenship crisis forced him to stand down as resources minister in July.
Ministerial staffing pay scales published by the Finance Department show that, as a senior adviser to Senator Canavan, Ms Campion was in line to earn up to $191,084. The current enterprise agreement for MPs states that staff classified as “senior advisers” are entitled to receive a private-plated vehicle or a “vehicle allowance” of more than $24,000 per annum. The agreement, as of April 2017, also provides for a parliamentary staff allowance for “senior staff” of $31,571. Mr Joyce’s office yesterday would not confirm how much Ms Campion was paid as a senior media adviser in his office but The Weekend Australian understands salaries for similar roles paid up to $164,878. The Prime Minister’s office must approve staff salaries.
While in Senator Canavan’s office, Ms Campion, 32, worked closely with the Nationals’ head office organising last year’s federal conference in Canberra, and working with regional MPs in
Queensland ahead of last year’s state election.
The Weekend Australian understands the position with Senator Canavan was not advertised and was filled internally by Ms Cam- pion, who was co-ordinating the social media strategy across the Nationals’ parliamentary team, including that of Mr Joyce.
Nationals sources yesterday said Ms Campion, a former deputy chief of staff at The Daily Telegraph, was qualified to take the position with Senator Canavan.
When Senator Canavan stood aside over his citizenship drama, Ms Campion and his staff were transferred to Mr Joyce’s office. Soon after, a position was approved by the Prime Minister’s office and created in Nationals Whip Damian Drum’s office for Ms Campion.
Speaking in Gladstone yesterday, Mr Shorten called on the Prime Minister to provide an explanation on Ms Campion’s job movements, but was careful not to take the issue further. “I think it would be wise of Mr Turnbull to reassure the Australian public that nothing untoward has occurred here,” Mr Shorten said. “Barnaby Joyce’s private life is his business.”
When pressed on the issue of Ms Campion’s employment, Mr Turnbull said he was “not aware of any inappropriate expenditure of public funds”. He said he was “very conscious of the hurt” Mr Joyce’s wife, Natalie, and their four daughters were going through.