Turnbull tells Joyce to 'consider future', issues sex ban

Australia’s scandal-hit deputy PM to take leave

Australian PM bans sex between ministers and staffers

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled Barnaby Joyce's actions a grave error of judgement and announced he will change the ministerial code of conduct to make it clear ministers can not have sexual relationships with staff members.

Joyce had made "a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office".

Changes introduced by Mr Turnbull include banning sexual relations with staff.

The prime minister said sexual relationships with staff was "very bad workplace practice".

"What we saw from the Prime Minister today was a Prime Minister who doesn't have confidence in his own deputy and doesn't seem to have the wit to work out how to do anything about it", Mr Albanese said.

At this stage, Mr Joyce's lover and former staffer Vikki Campion was around five months pregnant with their child and his 24-year marriage had broken down.

The Nationals leader said the invitation to live in the property came after he was ejected from parliament by the High Court, and therefore was not a minister at the time.

So despite facing numerous scandals and calls for his resignation Joyce isn't just staying put, he's going on a paid holiday to hide from further scrutiny.

Mr Turnbull's overhaul of the ministerial code comes after the US House last week adopted rules banning sex between members and their staff.

"The Foreign Minister has an extensive program [of commitments in] the United Kingdom, Hungary and Slovenia next week, and for that reason I will ask the leader of the government in the Senate, Senator Cormann, to be acting Prime Minister when I'm overseas".

Under the code of conduct, Mr Turnbull must approve any ministerial department job given to the partner of a frontbencher.

If the Deputy Prime Minister needs to hide every time the PM is busy, what's the point of him being the Deputy Prime Minister?

He has denied that he breached a ministerial code of conduct over two unadvertised jobs within his party that were offered to Ms Campion a year ago.

The prime minister visits Washington for talks with President Donald Trump next week and in a breach with tradition, Mr Joyce won't be acting prime minister while he is away.

The opposition Labor Party had hoped disaffected lawmakers in Barnaby Joyce's own Nationals party would back their motion, but coalition lawmakers in the House of Representatives held firm and defeated it 73 to 70.

"How can the Deputy Prime Minister say he didn't know when more than 80 people saw him there?"

"I encouraged him to take that leave", Mr Turnbull continued.

Labor laid out the case of Mr Joyce to go on Thursday, claiming he did not adequately disclose the free use of an apartment belonging to wealthy businessman Greg Maguire, had later misled Parliament over the arrangement, and had also breached the rules by moving Ms Campion to the offices of two other National Party politicians.

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