Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who opposed marriage equality and spoke about the need to support “traditional” families, is expecting a baby with a former staffer.

Joyce confirmed he has split from his wife Natalie, with whom he has four children, and is expecting a child with new partner Vikki Campion, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

Campion was previously Joyce’s media adviser.

Joyce was openly against same-sex marriage during last year’s debate, telling Yes campaigners to “get out of my face”.

Despite his New England electorate returning a Yes vote in the postal survey, he refused to represent their say in December, leaving the parliamentary chamber before the final vote.

“The current definition of marriage has stood the test of time—half of them fail, I acknowledge that,” Joyce said in parliament in December.

“I’ll acknowledge that I’m currently separated, so that’s on the record.”

Joyce and Campion have so far declined to comment publicly on their relationship.

During the marriage debate, he complained that Yes campaigners were persecuting him— “yelling at me, telling me if I don’t agree with them I’m somehow less than human”.

A long-time opponent of same-sex marriage, his earlier, more bizarre claims included that marriage equality would somehow harm Australia’s cattle trade.

Prior to announcing his separation last year, Joyce had frequently spoken about his wife and daughters and the importance of “traditional” marriage.

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