Independent MP Cathy McGowan has supported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull outlawing ministers from having relationships with staff

Relationships in focus: Cathy McGowan and Barnaby Joyce on the election trail in Wodonga in 2016. The independent MP has welcomed a ban on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff.

Relationships in focus: Cathy McGowan and Barnaby Joyce on the election trail in Wodonga in 2016. The independent MP has welcomed a ban on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff.

A WEEK after North East MP Cathy McGowan called for a shake-up on MPs’ standards, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has banned government ministers from having sex with their staff.

“Ministers, regardless of whether they are married or single, must not engage in sexual relations with a staff member,” Mr Turnbull said.

The ministerial code of conduct change was sparked by Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce’s affair with Vikki Campion, which the PM tagged a “shocking error of judgment”.

Ms McGowan heralded Mr Turnbull’s move.

“I really welcome the Prime Minister being clear about expectations, I think clarity about expectations is really important,” she said.

“When you don’t have clarity it can be very confusing.”

Ms McGowan believes the ban on sexual affairs with staff will spread from ministers to politicians as a whole.

“That’s where the Prime Minister is setting the bar, one would imagine it would flow through,” she said. 

The Indi MP said there would need to be a discussion about how such a rule was policed.

Ms McGowan repeated her concerns flagged last week that parliament is lagging the corporate sector and the AFL on personnel issues.

She said there was no framework for relationships or what to do “if the staff are having a massive fallout with each other”.

“It’s much bigger than just the Barnaby Joyce issue,” Ms McGowan said.

She likened the ties of an MP and their staff to a doctor and their patient or a lawyer and their client.