Politics

Barnaby Joyce Says His Marriage Breakdown Was One of His “Greatest Failures”

After the Daily Telegraph broke the news that Barnaby Joyce had separated from his wife and was expecting a baby with his former staffer, the deputy prime minister faced the cameras last night, telling the ABC that the end of his marriage was “one of the greatest failures of [his] life”.

In an interview with Leigh Sales, Joyce defended his right to have a private life, and looked visibly uncomfortable as he was challenged on the issues surrounding his marriage breakdown and new relationship.

In response to a question on whether public expenses were ever used to facilitate the relationship with his ex-media advisor, Joyce hit out at Sales:

“Once we start going through this salami-slicing of a private life, where does it end?” the 50-year-old said, “I don’t think it’s right, I don’t think it would be right for any other politician, and I think we should make the distinct decision to not turn into the United States of America.”

“One of the greatest failures of my life was the end of my marriage, and I do not in any way stand away from that. It was a tumultuous time and everyone who has been through a marriage breakup would understand that.”

The most confusing part of the interview came when Joyce talked about marriage equality — and remember, this was the same deputy prime minister who forced a national vote on marriage equality, then abstained from a vote in parliament, right as his relationship with his wife was breaking down.

“Just because my marriage didn’t work doesn’t mean I disregard what marriage is about. I failed — but just because I failed I’m not going to completely change my views.”

Rumours about the affair have been circulating through both the press and Parliament House for months, but even now politicians on both sides of the aisle are hesitant to speak about the matter.

“Look my personal view is that this is a private matter,” Dan Tehan, the Minister for Social Services told ABC’s Radio National yesterday morning, “It should be up to the individual, what they would like to put into the public domain or not.”

Labor’s Anthony Albanese and Mark Drefyus have both echoed that sentiment.

Before the interview, Barnaby’s wife of 24 years, Natalie Joyce, released a statement on the now very public affair:

“This situation is devastating on many fronts,” she said. “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.

“Our family life has had to be shared during Barnaby’s political career and it was with trust that we let campaign and office staff into our homes and into our lives.”

“Naturally we also feel deceived and hurt by the actions of Barnaby and the staff member involved.”

She asked for privacy for both her and her daughters.