Barnaby Joyce yesterday confirmed that he had “separated” from his wife during his address to the parliament on the same-sex marriage debate, ending months of speculation about his personal life.
“The current definition of marriage has stood the test of time – half of them fail, I acknowledge that,” the newly sworn in Deputy Prime Minister said
“I’ll acknowledge that I'm currently separated, so that's on the record.”
Mr Joyce, the member for New England, said he had not “come to this debate pretending to be a saint” as he continued to back the traditional definition of marriage in his second day back in the job after the New England by-election at the weekend.
The declaration was the first time Mr Joyce has publicly said that he has split from his wife of 24 years, Natalie, however rumours about their relationship had marred the by-election.
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There had been significant social media speculation about Mr Joyce’s private life during the five weeks of the campaign.
Repeatedly Mr Joyce had deflected questions about his marriage, saying “my personal life is my personal life”.
Last Friday, the day before New England went to the polls, The Leader had asked Mr Joyce via email whether his marriage had broken down due to the conspicuous absence of his family from the campaign trail.
Mr Joyce’s media team refused to answer the questions and in a series of email exchanges with The Leader queried their relevance to the by-election and did not provide an answer.
During the 2016 election Mr Joyce’s family, including Natalie and his four daughters, were regularly seen on the hustings.
In stark contrast, Mr Joyce’s family was nowhere to be seen in an official capacity during the five weeks of the by-election nor as he declared victory at the Southgate Inn, Tamworth on Saturday night.
During the by-election, a comment about Mr Joyce’s personal life resulted in a heated confrontation in Graman Pub, which ended with the then-candidate flicking a man’s hat off.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s return to the political fray after being forced into a by-election due to his New Zealand citizenship was just in time to vote on the historic same-sex marriage Bill.
More than 100 MPs made speeches on the floor of parliament for more than 28 hours before the Bill was passed late Thursday.