By Kelly Hughes
By now everyone is sick of hearing about Barnaby Joyce and his affair with a former staff member that ended his marriage. Australians may argue the incident is nothing short of tabloid noise in an echo chamber of scandal-seeking theatrics before an election.
And to an extent they’re right, we don’t care about the intimacies of Barnaby Joyce, or any other politician’s marriage, except when their ethics and character are called into question in governing the country.
Years prior to the same-sex marriage plebiscite, Joyce campaigned tirelessly against gay marriage. Publically opposing changes to the Australian Marriage Act, Joyce peddled his daughter’s rights to a “secure relationship with a loving husband.”
“We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband,” he said, “and I want that to happen for them. I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”
In an effort to “protect” his daughters from straying away from the sacred “institution of marriage” Joyce argued changes to the law to allow same-sex marriage would degrade the traditional values of love and partnership.
The potential “negative affect” this could have had on his daughters was worth the national vote, thrusting the private lives of LGBTIQ+ people and their families into the public arena.
However last night, on the ABC’s 7:30 report, Joyce declined to comment on the recent news insisting his “private life should remain private.” Business Insider revealed, “Barnaby Joyce used the word ‘private’ 31 times in an interview about his affair with a former staffer.”
Colleagues of Mr. Joyce also declined to comment on the incident, saying, “it was a private matter.”
On 5AA radio, Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne shamed the news as tabloid journalism, “I think it’s a great pity that this has happened to Barnaby Joyce and his family, and it must be very traumatising for everyone, made much worse by being publicised on the front page.”
How uncomfortable Barnaby Joyce must have felt having to front up and defend his private life.
Probably not as unpleasant as having your values of marriage and family questioned and debated in public for decades and then put to a national vote.
I agree that it’s politicians not their families that sign up to a life of scrutiny and accountability. I also agree in the case of most issues, the private and intimate details of a politician’s life should remain private. But inviting a national vote against same-sex couples in public while disrespecting the very “sacred institution” of marriage in private is well within the realm of public interest.
Australians don’t vote for politicians who stand for one thing in public and then contradict the very values that led us to vote for them in private. That’s the definition of hypocrisy.
The issue with Joyce is that he believes he’s “above scrutiny” and doesn’t want the details of his private life splashed across the national newspapers and televisions. However he must understand his character and ethics as a politician should be called into stricter question in light of his unbelievable hypocrisy.
In a statement, his wife, Ms Joyce said she was “deceived and hurt”.
“I understand that this affair has been going on for many months and started when she was a paid employee.
“The situation is devastating on many fronts. For my girls who are affected by the family breakdown and for me as a wife of 24 years, who placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life.”
It speaks to Joyce’s character when he shows his appreciation for his wife and daughters, (who’ve supported him for 24 years through his political career) by not separating amicably, but running off with a woman almost 20 years his junior.
The “traditional marriage” Barnaby speaks of, that “protects” women, often sees them sacrificing their careers in support for their husband or raising a family.
After all, how on earth is Barnaby going to juggle raising a child and working as Deputy PM?
Image Source: SMH