Millionaire mate who gave Barnaby place to stay
THE multi-millionaire who gave a rent-free property to the Deputy Prime Minister and his lover says Barnaby Joyce phoned him to ask for a place to stay.
Greg Maguire told The Daily Telegraph he was simply "helping a mate out" after he separated from his wife, and Mr Joyce had offered to pay rent on the Armidale unit, about $460 a week, but the businessman waived the payment for six months.
It comes as revelations that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull authorised the creation of two new jobs for Mr Joyce's girlfriend Vikki Campion are set to dog the Coalition, with Labor planning to pursue the government over the scandal.
The Daily Telegraph revealed Ms Campion, Mr Joyce's former media adviser, was given a newly created job running social media in Resources Minister Matt Canavan's office before moving to another newly created role as media adviser in the office of the National Party's chief whip Damien Drum.
A spokesman for Mr Turnbull said his authorisation for the roles was purely "administrative".
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Mr Maguire said Mr Joyce was a close mate and he did not mind waiving the six-month rent of between $400 and $460 a week for the three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse.
"Because he knows I own a lot of buildings, he (Mr Joyce) said have I got anything available," Mr Maguire said.
"He wanted to rent the apartment for a few months and I said, 'I'm happy to let you stay there until you sort yourself out.
"In my heart, all I was doing was helping a mate out, giving him somewhere to live after he'd split up."
Mr Maguire said he did not know Mr Joyce intended to live in the Armidale apartment with his lover Ms Campion.
"No, no I didn't know any of that. All I knew was that he had left home and he needed a place to stay," he said.
"He knows I own a lot of residential property, and we had one apartment available. I offered that and, as I said, he offered to pay and I said, 'I don't want that.'"
Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek yesterday became the party's most senior figure to demand Mr Turnbull explain why Ms Campion's new positions had been authorised.
"It does appear that these jobs were created in addition to the jobs that already existed in these offices, and they were at quite high rates of pay," Ms Plibersek said.
"I think that is something that either the Prime Minister who has ultimate responsibility for signing off on these things or the Deputy Prime Minister ought to answer questions about."
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hit back, warning Labor about "people in glass houses".
Nationals MP Michelle Landry, said: "I think Labor shouldn't start throwing stones when they have glass walls, because we could do a bit of digging there."
There is no suggestion Ms Campion did not merit the appointments, which came amid increasing concerns from Mr Joyce's office and colleagues about the affair.
A spokesman for Mr Joyce said the Deputy Prime Minister "had not discussed Ms Campion's employment with the Prime Minister or his office".
But Mr Joyce's office refused to respond to questions about the repayment of a hire car bill that sources said had involved a trip with Ms Campion.
Mr Joyce returned to a holiday in Maroochydore last January by car, costing taxpayers $1648. His office later repaid $708 because he was only entitled to claim the cost of a trip to his Tamworth electorate, where he lives with Ms Campion.
His spokesman said Mr Joyce "was advised that travel rules only allow for the return home costs to be met".
"If Mr Joyce had returned to his home, he still would have been 650km from where he needed to be, which is why a hire car was used instead (of flying).
"Like all offices, there was no log kept of which staff - if any - travelled with the Minister on any trip unless travel claims were made or tickets purchased."