Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has sensationally revealed he warned former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that other Liberal politicians were having sex with staffers when the latter introduced his infamous "bonk ban". Now those politicians could be exposed.
But the man who started it all and triggered the "bonk ban" when he formed a relationship with his former press secretary Vikki Campion has slammed the rules policing politicians' sex lives as a joke.
Joyce said he warned Turnbull all along that no good would come of the "bonk ban" and if applied retrospectively would rule out the majority of Australia's most revered prime ministers.
"Now, the chicken has come home to roost,'' Joyce told news.com.au.
Joyce said he knew all along he was not the only middle-aged politician in Australia engaging in a sexual affair and told the Prime Minister so at the time.
"And you can put this on the record: I brought this to Malcolm's attention. I said, 'But there are others Malcolm. What are you going to do about them?'
"He just looked at his porridge. He just looked at his desk. I said: 'This is ridiculous!'"
The rules effectively allow MPs to have sex with political staffers in other offices but not their own staffers under the ministerial code of conduct.
Turnbull writes in his memoir, A Bigger Picture, that there's a culture of "boozing and screwing" in Canberra.
But Joyce told news.com.au that Canberra is actually less boozy than ever before and the humble iPhone is the real culprit.
"There's not a culture of boozing and screwing your staff since the advent of iPhones which take photos wherever you go," Joyce observed.
"If you sack Barnaby, are you going to sack the others? And by the way, I hope they don't get sacked. It wasn't a bonk ban. It was a Barnaby ban."
The former Nationals leader also said history was littered with great leaders who were also philanderers.
"If we had a retrospective of Malcolm's law there would be no [Bob] Hawke, there would be no [John] Curtin, no [Ben] Chiefly, probably no [Robert] Menzies. No Holt. No Gorton. No McMahon.
"They are politicians. If you're looking for people who are moral guides try Mother Teresa, the Pope, possibly the Queen. I don't know, certain religious leaders from the Islamic faith.
"It would be just as ridiculous to go to a politician for confession."
Joyce said he could never understand why anyone would support a quasi "morals police" for politicians.
"It is an absurdity to codify people's personal lives because it presumes there is some sort of illegality," he said.
"That is the job for the priest, or pastor, it's not a job for another politician. If it's completely consensual between two adults? None of your business.
"Everyone thinks this is an absurdity."
Joyce said he did not think Turnbull was a prude who was trying to establish some sort of political sex police but he simply wanted to bump him off for political reasons.
"It was, as Malcolm does, going for the jugular,'' he said.
"It is intrusive. It is ridiculous. It presumes full details of people's personal lives,'' he said.
"I don't wish what happened to me to happen to them."
The former deputy prime minister said anyone who presumed to know what was going on in somebody else's marriage didn't have a clue.
"You don't know what the hell is going on. People presume they know everything, they don't," he said.
"People aren't dopey. They don't just fall out of marriage on a whim. It happens over years."
The Australian's Media Diary columnist Nick Tabakoff broke the story on Monday morning that "emails have been fired off by the government to the ABC, addressing or copying-in the public broadcaster's managing director David Anderson, news chief Gaven Morris, Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour and researcher Lucy Carter" over the story.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday morning that the ABC had a duty to "uphold its charter" when asked if his office or other senior ministers had applied pressure over the issue.
"We would just expect that the ABC, always, that they would act in an independent and an unbiased ... way," Morrison said.
"If they are going to make inquiries I would think they would want to do them across the political spectrum.
"I more than supported it. I ensured that it continued," Morrison said about the "bonk ban" that Turnbull introduced.
But despite the complaints to the ABC, Morrison conceded he had not seen the programme.
"I am not in the habit of responding to allegations based on a programme I haven't seen. I don't even know what's in it,'' he said.
Neighbour confirmed on Monday morning that political pressure had been applied.
"The political pressure applied to the ABC behind the scenes over this story has been extreme and unrelenting,'' she tweeted.
"All credit to the ABC's leadership for withstanding it. 'Inside the Canberra Bubble', tonight on #4Corners."
The Four Corners investigation follows revelations in Turnbull's memoir that he once asked a married minister for a "please explain" over his frequent visits to Canberra bars with young women amid concerns it was a "bad look" in the bonk ban.
Turnbull introduced the "bonk ban" after it emerged that former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce had left his wife and formed a relationship with his former press secretary with whom he now has two sons.
Morrison confirmed that not only did he support the "bonk ban" but was one of it's biggest backers.
"When the former Prime Minister introduced it I was one of its strongest supporters. It's important as a cultural change within the parliament," he said.
In the book, Turnbull writes that Joyce was "a champion of traditional marriage while practising traditional adultery".