Barnaby Joyce 'resisted' removing girlfriend Vikki Campion from office

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'I went over to the bar and he was very, very drunk and almost falling over, ' she said.

What was adjudged containable is in the wind despite political class reluctance to discuss Joyce's marriage breakdown, his relationship with a staff member, her pregnancy.

When Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked Turnbull whether Joyce would be acting prime minister when Turnbull visits the United States next week, and whether he still retained confidence in Joyce, Turnbull kept his answer as brief as possible.

Under the ministerial code of conduct, a minister's "close relatives and partners are not to be appointed to positions in their ministerial or electorate offices and must not be employed in the offices of other members of the executive government without the prime minister's express approval".

Questions are now being asked about Ms Campion's employment during her time with the federal Nationals, after the media advisor a year ago moved from Mr Joyce's office to the office of minister Matt Canavan and later to the office of Nationals whip Damian Drum.

He said Mr Canavan's staffing decision was made on the Nationals part.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, a "respected" woman claims the embattled National Party leader was "very, very drunk" when he pinched her after she confronted him about his behaviour with another woman at an event following the Rural Women's Agricultural Awards in Canberra in 2011.

"Toxic" was another term used by Nationals to describe Mr Joyce's situation. "To my girls, how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt it has caused them", My Joyce told reporters outside federal parliament on Tuesday.

"Let me tell you the people who keep Barnaby here and in his position are National Party people and he has 100 per cent support from all of us", he said.

"I had a good chat to Barnaby yesterday - he's going OK but to be frank he is under a lot of pressure, no doubt", Senator Williams said.

Mr Cassidy said "there might be something" but refused to comment saying it could not be substantiated.

And Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, whose department oversees the hiring of political staff, says everything was done appropriately. I just don't know.

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He noted Mr Joyce had said that freedom of information requests had not uncovered any breaches.

Mr Turnbull has said he was not aware of any inappropriate spending of public funds relating to the affair.

'Government has no business interfering in people's personal lives, we wouldn't want to, ' she said.

"I am confident that everything is alright but I am not sitting in his office looking over his travel claims, so I can't justify what's what".

Nationals senator John Williams went on the defence when asked if Mr Joyce was the best person to lead the party to the next election, telling ABC radio on Monday: "He's certainly been a great leader and I stick by that".

Natalie Joyce, wife of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is pictured with her daughters (L-R): Odette, Caroline, Julia, Bridgette.

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