Reason behind Barnaby’s ‘terrible’ comment
IT WAS a straightforward question when Barnaby Joyce was asked whether Vikki Campion's unborn child was his.
However, when journalists asked him this before the birth of his son, Sebastian, the embattled former deputy prime minister denied that he was child's biological father and later told other journalists it was "a grey area".
It caused major embarrassment for the scandal-ridden backbench federal pollie who was then forced to backtrack and eventually concede that Sebastian was his son.
Now, in his new book, Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, the Bush and Me, he has explained the reasoning behind the bizarre answers - saying his mental health was "at the edge".
Mr Joyce puts this "terrible mistake" down to "perverse logic" - he didn't want to reward the relentless media with any details.
"Somehow I thought that creating doubt by not having all the details might switch this frenzy off," he wrote, in the book which was written over six years. "You are not logical when under intense pressure for weeks."
He also revealed in the book that he wanted to go away and die after the affair scandal that destroyed his career and marriage.
"When you stop thinking about how sad it will be when you have gone, to thinking, I have hurt so many that I want to go without anybody knowing," he wrote.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, to promote the new book, Mr Joyce said he had to seek the help of a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with depression and advised he should get structure into his life if he did not want to slide further "into the darkness".
In the new book he describes how he grew apart from his, now estranged, wife and the mother of four of his children Natalie, as he drank heavily, wandered Canberra's bars and pursuing other women for years.
"When I was at home I was a lie, and when I was in Canberra I was ashamed," he wrote.
"Winston Churchill had his black dog: mine was a half-crazed cattle dog, biting everything that came near the yard.
"But the downside comes as well, when you get sad in the afternoon because it's the afternoon and there are not enough clouds in the sky …
"When you stop thinking about how sad it will be when you have gone, to thinking, I have hurt so many that I want to go without anybody knowing."
The book is dedicated to his "beloved daughters and son".
"I wish I could have given you a life outside the spotlight I turned on," he writes. "I wanted the best for you but was blinded in the glare of the exertion."
He then describes Ms Campion as "my at times, typist, editor, critic and ever-patient partner, sitting tortured behind her keyboard trying to make sense of me."
Mr Joyce's "grey area" comments sparked criticism on social media, including from his New England rival Tony Windsor, who tweeted: "If anyone had doubts about Joyce's character I think they now have a clear picture of this grub, will sacrifice others on his blundering self centred path. How many more women does he have to damage?"
Before he was asked by Fairfax, Mr Joyce claimed he was not asked whether the child was his before Ms Campion's pregnancy was revealed to the Australian public on the front cover of The Daily Telegraph, eventually resulting in his resignation from Cabinet.
However, the original author of the article Sharri Markson tweeted an email that showed the paper did ask him this before publishing the story.
"Here's the email where, contrary to his quotes in Fairfax, I directly ask Barnaby Joyce, before publication, if the baby is his and ask him to confirm he had already told his wife and daughters," News Corp Australia journalist Ms Markson tweeted in March. "We published the story when we were satisfied he was treating the unborn as his own."
Mr Joyce reportedly told The Daily Telegraph he was physically apart from Ms Campion for most of the period when the baby would have been conceived.
It is believed Ms Campion became pregnant around July or August of last year, a time when she was transferred from Resource Minister Matt Canavan's office into a newly created social media adviser role for Nationals MP Damian Dunn.
She did however return to Mr Joyce's office for a number of weeks around the time of this transition.
The latest revelations comes as an audit found Mr Joyce did not break any travel expense rules between May 2016 and February this year.
"They have looked up every crevice and down every crack and there's not a dollar that's been misspent," he told Channel 7.
"I'm not going to sulk about the investigation, nor am I going to brag about its outcome."