Barnaby Joyce faces monumental risk after baby news
BARNABY Joyce has to convince Australians they are witnessing a grand romance if he wants to hold on to his political career.
That he is the man a heartbeat from the national leadership who has lost his heart to a younger adviser.
If he can't get a touch of Love Actually into his story he risks being condemned by the perception it is just a sordid and tacky tale of infidelity.
The deputy PM is reportedly expecting a baby with one of his former staff members, Vikki Campion.
She has reportedly moved in with Mr Joyce and is due to give birth in April, The Telegraph reports.
It means Mr Joyce now has limited scope for maintaining his championship of traditional, conservative views on marriage.
Do revelations about Barnaby Joyce change your view of him?
This poll ended on 21 February 2018.
Yes. It's wrong on so many levels
No. It's personal. Leave him alone
Yes. Because he's portrayed himself as a conservative, moral voice
Depends on whether it's true love or not
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Further, his actions encourage a view he can't be trusted.
And he has to convincingly argue his trysts weren't taxpayer funded, although that could be difficult.
When the relationship with Ms Campion emerged last year, a senior adviser to Mr Joyce transferred the media adviser to the office of then resources minister Matt Canavan. His troubles over dual citizenship ended the office and that arrangement.
What is known is that Ms Campion, 33, a former media adviser to Mr Joyce when he was Agriculture Minister, is now his pregnant partner.
He is separated from his wife of 24 years Natalie, the mother of their four daughters.
Ms Campion's child is expected in March or April.
Australians generally are broad minded about who sleeps with whom and love a romance.
Sources say Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accepted assurances from Mr Joyce that it is genuine and enduring love.
However, those of a narrower tolerance often are elected to Parliament.
Critical reactions to the Joyce affair will come from such ministers as Mathias Cormann and Scott Morrison, both conservatives.
And the reaction of women in government will be important.
Mr Joyce's circumstances were known by his former Nationals deputy Fiona Nash, her replacement Bridget McKenzie and probably all his backbench.
Labor is likely to let voters decide how Mr Joyce comes out of this, rather than make the private situation a public and political attack line.
It is not seemly to intrude into personal affairs, certainly not when Labor has had its own relationship issues to deal with.
In 2015 the Coalition government accused Labor front bencher Tony Burke of using taxpayer funds to fly first-class with an adviser, Skye Laris, who became his partner after his marriage broke up.
His marriage ended in 2012 and his new partner became known in public in 2014.
"It's something I view as none of my business," Labor frontbencher Tony Burke told reporters in Canberra this morning.
"This ricochets and affects families. There's a principle here that I've always abided by to not engage in anything that hits the private lives of other members of parliament."
The most directly involved judges, outside the families, will be the voters of New England.
The disintegration of the Joyce marriage was known widely in the seat when Mr Joyce successfully contested a by-election late last year after bungling his citizenship status.
The relationship with Ms Campion and her pregnancy were hinted at - even loudly trumpeted - on social media and blogs.
Mr Joyce was easily returned.