A former senator has labelled Canberra's Parliament House one of the most unhealthy workplaces in the country, citing the "amount of rooting" that goes on there.

Wading into the scandal surrounding Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, ousted Labor star Sam Dastyari indicated he was not surprised that the Nationals leader had been all but brought down by an affair with a staff member.

"The reality is, the amount of rooting that goes on in a place like Canberra," he told a radio station yesterday morning.

"In terms of unhealthy workplaces, it's one of the most unhealthy workplaces in the country."

Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari says Parliament had a weird alcohol-fuelled, late-night culture. Photo / Getty
Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari says Parliament had a weird alcohol-fuelled, late-night culture. Photo / Getty

Dastyari said the unique alcohol-fuelled Canberra culture, where outsiders became celebrities, often led to "rooting around".

"You've got 4000 people in this building called Parliament, which is mostly just journos, staffers, politicians, living in this strange world of kind of alcohol and late nights and sitting and everyone is telling each other how important they are all the time ... all of it fuels this really weird environment," he said.

Asked if there were a lot of people sleeping with each other in Canberra, Dastyari replied: "Of course."

"Weirdly enough, more in the kind of conservative side of politics than the Left of politics," he added.

Dastyari said he himself didn't care about "two people bonking", but said the hypocrisy of the act upset conservative voters.

"The act of running a conservative political party — the National Party, whether you like them or not, are incredibly socially conservative — they're running on family values and all those kind of issues," he said.

"This is the bit that really bothers me. Don't preach the Christian moral values and root around on the side. That's the bit that bothers me."

Dastyari went on to say he thought Joyce — who is under fire after it was revealed he was expecting a child with former media adviser Vikki Campion, ending his 24-year marriage — was "done".


"Barnaby's just lost control ... the stories that are coming out. The rumours that are out there about Barnaby are so much worse. They get way worse than that," he said.

"The bloke is done. Whether it's today, next week or the week after. He's done."

Joyce and his former staffer, now lover, Vikki Campion.
Joyce and his former staffer, now lover, Vikki Campion.

The colourful interview came after Dastyari went on a late-night Twitter rant aimed at the besieged Nationals leader.

His tweets included claims "everyone" knew about Joyce's affair, and apparent threats to out other Conservative MPs who were "f***ing around".

It also comes as the Joyce affair has ignited a flurry of commentary around MPs' relationships with staff.

Some have even called for a "bonk ban" that would follow the US' lead in disallowing politicians to engage in sexual relations with staff.

Joyce's affair is of course not the first to cause controversy in Canberra.

Perhaps the most famous relationship to be struck up within the walls of Parilament was between former foreign minister and deputy Labor leader Gareth Evans and former Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot.

The pair's relationship was outed after Kernot made her move to the ALP, but ultimately led to her leaving politics altogether.

More recently, Labor frontbencher Tony Burke's relationship with former staffer Sky Laris was under scrutiny when expenses, including first-class flights for the adviser turned partner, were called into question.

Since Joyce's and Campion's affair was made public, there have also been questions raised around the employment of politicians' lovers.

Both Joyce and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have insisted there was no breach in rules involved in Campion's appointments in Nationals MPs' offices.

But in an interview on Sky News, former Liberal adviser Peta Credlin was asked by Andrew Bolt: "Do MPs often try to find jobs for lovers?"

Credlin replied: "Are you asking me is this the first time that this has occurred? I'm saying no it's not."

Joyce is now facing calls to resign over his affair with Vikki Campion — who is due to give birth to his fifth child in April — and the government jobs she was given once the secret started to come out.

Since the pregnancy was splashed on the front page of the Daily Telegraph last week, further allegations of misbehaviour by Joyce have emerged.

Dastyari, who was forced to resign from the Senate after warning a Chinese donor he may be under surveillance, claimed he had to resign from Parliament for "a lot less".

"Hey Barnaby Joyce, I went for a LOT less. Quit while you are behind," he wrote on Twitter. "Trust me — it only gets a LOT worse from here."

Dastyari appeared to attack claims from the Prime Minister's office that Malcolm Turnbull was unaware of the affair, and assurances there was no breach in rules of Campion being granted jobs in Joyce's and other Nationals MPs' offices because she was not his partner.

"Everyone. And I mean EVERYONE in federal Parliament knew about Vicki and Barnaby. Anyone who claims they didn't is either bulls***ing or so out of touch they shouldn't be in Parliament," he said.

Dastyari argued Campion's job relocation from Joyce's office to work for other Nationals MPs was "a clear breach of the rules".

"We all assumed it would come out during the by-election," he said.

"For f***s sake — how can you construe the pregnant woman Barnaby left his wife for as NOT his partner. Who was she then?"

In a written statement, Joyce said the saga had been a "searing experience" for the women involved.

"This has been a searing personal experience for Natalie, our daughters and for Vikki — criticise me if you wish but please have some regard for them," he said.

He said Campion had joined his staff for the July, 2016 election in New England. In August she joined his ministerial staff.

"A friendship subsequently developed and that became, over time, more," he said.

Joyce repeated his argument that her move to the office of Energy Minister Matt Canavan and then to then Nationals Whip Damian Drum's office had not breached rules banning the employment of partners.

"She was well qualified for the role, was an existing and obviously capable staff member and the change was within the existing Nationals staff arrangement," he said.

"I did not discuss these matters with the Prime Minister or his office as Vikki was not my partner, so they were dealt with in the usual course of staff deployments within the party.

"When Mr Canavan stood down over the citizenship issue she went to work for another MP, and subsequently left the Nationals staff following the most recent reshuffle."