February 9, 2018 / 6:16 AM / in 4 months

Australia PM confronts scandal over deputy's extramarital affair

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday he opposes proposed legislation to ban relationships between lawmakers and their staff amid a scandal over his deputy’s extramarital affair.

FILE PHOTO: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reacts as he sits in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, October 25, 2017. AAP/Mick Tsikas/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT.

Barnaby Joyce, a practicing Catholic, is expecting a child with his former press secretary, his estranged wife confirmed this week.

Eager to rebuild public trust, independent MP Cathy McGowan said she may introduce legislation modeled on that passed by the U.S. Congress that prohibits relationships between lawmakers and staff.

“Relations between consenting adults are not something you would be justified in seeking to regulate,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Turnbull’s center-right government has a razor-thin one seat majority in parliament and can ill-afford to alienate its traditional conservative voters just over a year out from the next election.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Nick Macfie

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