Barnaby Joyce
Barnaby Joyce, a member of the Australia Federal Senate, talks during an interview in Canberra December 2, 2005. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Barnaby Joyce said it was Vikki Campion who wanted the money from their paid interview. The former deputy prime minister of Australia has defended selling their story for a reported $150,000 in a tell-all interview with Seven’s Sunday Night program.

Joyce and his staffer-turned-girlfriend sat down with Seven for a tell-all interview to air Sunday. He said they decided to go ahead with the interview because they wanted privacy after their son’s birth last month. Campion, he said, was the one who wanted to get paid for their interview.

“In the last fortnight, we’ve had drones over our house, we’ve had paparazzi waiting for us outside Armidale airport, we’ve had people following us to Uralla,” he said on Tuesday. “We tried just burning this out and that didn’t work.”

He told The Australian that if it were just him in the interview, he wouldn’t have charged for it. But it also involved Campion and their baby, Sebastian. According to him, Campion said everybody was already making money from her name, so it’s time they make money as well.

“They wanted an interview obviously to get Vikki’s side of the story, and like most mothers, she said, ‘Seeing as I am being screwed over and there are drones and everything over my house in the last fortnight, paparazzi waiting for me, if everybody else is making money, then [I am] going to make money out of it,’” he said.

That’s not how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saw it, though. He said he would raise the matter privately with his former deputy PM. “It’s not something that I would have encouraged him to do, in fact quite the contrary,” he told Tasmanian radio station LAFM.

Seven reportedly got into a bidding war with Nine over the interview. The money will allegedly go straight to Seb’s trust fund.

Some of Joyce’s colleagues in the Nationals have either been supportive or indifferent to his getting paid. Deputy leader Bridget McKenzie told the ABC that it was a matter between Joyce and Campion.

“People write memoirs all the time,” she said. “Politicans tell their stories in a variety of ways throughout their careers. I don’t think it’s up to me to be making commentary on the morality of that or otherwise.”

Senator John Williams did not want to comment on it as it was “not for me to judge.” Health Minister Greg Hunt also did not want to comment, saying he would let them comment on their own circumstances.

Not everyone is happy or indifferent, though. One of Joyce’s Coalition colleagues thought Joyce once again has brought a new scandal.

“Every time we start to get back on track, he comes out with something new,” the unnamed colleague was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “Every single time. Every time.

“He popped up last week, talking to the cameras again [about the live sheep export trade], so he has obviously decided he’s had enough time in the wilderness, and now we are dealing with him accepting money to talk about the relationship which derailed everything we have been trying to do all year. He just needs to shut the hell up.”

Nationals frontbencher Darren Chester said he would want to discuss the proposed banning of politicians receiving cash for comment at the next party room meeting.

“This is unprecedented in my time in parliament and I’m open to the conversation about banning MPs from benefitting personally from selling stories to the media,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Joyce announced in December that he and his wife, Natalie, had separated. It was in February that it was revealed that his former staffer, Campion, was expecting a son with him. She gave birth in April. He also has four daughters with Natalie.