Barnaby Joyce has released a statement explaining to how he came to be living in his friend Greg Maguire’s Armidale house rent free.
Mr Joyce says he was approached by Mr Maguire, along with other friends, with offers of support after the High Court ruling forced him to step down as New England MP.
Mr Joyce said the prominent New England businessman told him “You're living out of a suitcase and this is basically something that I should try and help you with”.
“I took him up on the offer but I offered to pay for it,” Mr Joyce said.
“He said basically mates don't pay for things when they're helping other mates out and that's precisely what happened.”
Mr Joyce also pointed out that at the time, he was not a member of parliament, he was “basically a person standing for election”.
“Nonetheless it's quite clear that I did not approach Mr Maguire for assistance. Mr Maguire approached me and offered help.”
However, Mr Maguire has told multiple media outlet, that it was Mr Joyce who made contact first, asking for a place to stay, which Mr Joyce offered to pay for.
After it became apparent with the deliberations of the high court that I was no longer a member of parliament, and had to stand, I went through the process of being endorsed and it was at that time that Mr Maguire approached me, as did many other friends, approached me, to offer support.
At the time, in the discussions, he said, "You're living out of a suitcase and this is basically something that I should try and help you with". I took him up on the offer but I offered to pay for it. He said basically mates don't pay for things when they're helping other mates out and that's precisely what happened.
His daughter had just moved out of the apartment – and it is not a – people say it's a luxury apartment. It's not. It's an apartment in Armidale. She had moved out. He said, "It's free. There's no one using it and you're welcome to use it to basically get back up on your feet."
Might I remind the House that at that point in time I was not a member of parliament. I was merely, basically, a person standing for election and therefore at that point in time, even though I was not bound by the ministerial code of conduct, because I was not a minister, nonetheless, nonetheless it's quite clear that I did not approach Mr Maguire for assistance. Mr Maguire approached me and offered help.
After the election, I disclosed on my members' interests that I was living in Armidale in a house that had been provided to me.
I believe that I did everything that I believe was fully transparent. In fact, at the time, it was said that because it's from a personal friend that you're not obliged to declare it. I said I wanted to declare it because I wanted to be fully transparent on the issue.
Now, I might also say that this circumstance, my personal circumstances, have been up hill down dale in this last week. I acknowledge that. I accept that, and that is the price of a political life.
I might also state that, on issues such as this, in this place, that it is without a shadow of a doubt that people are going to start having questions asked of them and that might be the process of the parliament, as to exactly how that works. But, um, in due course, as with most people,
I don't think it's unusual in a marriage break-up, things will no doubt settle down with making sure that I find another house. I think that any person watching this – sadly about 40% to 50% of marriages break down – this is not completely out of the ballpark. So I state once more I did not, I did not approach Mr Maguire for any help. I did not approach him."