How my ministers responded to bonk ban

The Bug is proud to have been selected as one of very few outlets around the globe trusted to officially promote former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest memoir, A Blank Canvas, that had its official launch yesterday.

In this second extract, Mr Turnbull explains how he handled a sex scandal that threatened to derail his excellent government.


One advantage of having a vastly superior intellect to others – it’s true that colleagues have always recognised that I’ve always been the smartest person in any room even though sometimes I’m not even in it – is that I know instinctively whether people are being upfront and honest with me.

It’s one of my many gifts.

This amazing ability of mine to get to the truth of a matter was no doubt honed in my various careers as a top business journalist, barrister, banker, successful businessman and statesman. None of those vocations tolerated anything but the rigid adherence to probity and truthfulness at all times.

So on that early 2018 evening as my deputy PM and Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce stood before me and declared he was not having sexual relations with Vicki Campion, I knew I was right to take his denials at more than just red-faced value.

Barnyard had spat out his denial with such a hurt and outraged demeanour that I accepted his explanation that he had only been photographed accompanying Ms Campion to a doctor’s appointment because she was feeling lonely and afraid and had asked for support while seeking treatment for an upset stomach.

I always knew Barnyard was fond of the lass since she assisted in his 2016 election campaign as a media adviser.barnaby beetroot

“You do know she’s permanently on my staff now?” he told me late one night in mid 2016.

My deputy also told me he had been very impressed with her oral skills and when I suggested he meant her verbal communications abilities, he did respond: ”That too, I guess.”

As mentioned before in this amazing memoir that I understand has already reached blockbuster status, I was terribly upset when it turned out that Barnyard had indeed later began a relationship with Ms Campion that threatened the very existence of my excellent government.

I want to stress here that I’m not a prude or judgmental about others. I appreciate that many marriages fail and couples move apart and find companionship elsewhere. I believe in no-fault divorce, naturally enough.

I can do this even though my own marriage has been an exceptionally loyal and loving one from the moment my beloved Lucy met me in the 1970s and naturally enough fell madly in love with me.

Our bond since our marriage in 1980 has only grown stronger as she has appreciated more and more with each passing decade just how lucky she was to have met and married me.

But I digress. After the truth finally came out about Barnyard and Ms Campion, I called that media conference where I declared that none of my ministers would be allowed to have sexual relations of any sort, either vaginally, anally or by any other orifice for that matter, with staff members from that moment on. The so-called “bonk ban”, as the media distastefully put it.

That night, my email inbox was flooded with offers of resignation from all members of Cabinet and all but one of the outer ministry as well.

I was stunned to see Michael McCormack’s name amongst those offering to resign – in fact, he offered to resign four times.

I remember thinking to myself: “If that country hick dullard is getting to throw his leg over, my government’s well and truly fucked” if you’ll pardon the French.