Politics

Barnaby Joyce Told Young People To Move To Armidale For The Cheap Rent While Living Rent Free

His hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The Barnaby Joyce saga has already highlighted numerous examples of hypocrisy on the part of one of Australia’s most conservative politicians.

The most glaring was Joyce’s defence of “traditional marriage” and opposition to marriage equality at the same time he was conducting an affair. Then it resurfaced that back in 2007 Joyce had opposed the life saving HPV vaccine because he was concerned it would give a “license to be promiscuous”.

It’s good to know that his stance on promiscuity extends to opposing important health measures for women but not actually refraining from being promiscuous himself. How good are conservative politicians?

Now yet another example of hypocrisy has emerged, thanks to the new spotlight on Joyce’s private life. Last week The Australian reported that Joyce was living rent-free in an Armidale house owned by a local businessman.

The arrangement, which is reportedly going to last six months, is worth about $14,000. The house was also given a security upgrade by the federal government at an unknown cost.

The fact that the Deputy Prime Minister is living in a house fully paid for by a prominent local businessman is already a pretty juicy story. But it’s even more interesting when you contrast Joyce’s living situation to comments he’s made on housing affordability.

The Incredible Hypocrisy

In January last year Joyce doled out some truly shit advice to young people struggling with Australia’s housing affordability crisis. The problem, according to Joyce, is that everyone wants to live somewhere with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If everyone just moved to the country, where rent is cheaper, there wouldn’t be a crisis.

“I get annoyed when people talk about that the only house that you can buy apparently is in Sydney and it’s too dear,” Joyce said. “There are other parts of Australia. I live in one; it’s called Tamworth.”

“We believe that houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just accept that. What people have got to realise is that houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba.”

Joyce repeated this line of argument just two weeks ago. At a press conference with the PM, where he was asked about housing affordability, he suggested people living capital cities should sell up, move to Armidale and bank their savings.

Just so we’re clear: The Deputy PM’s response to young people struggling with the high cost of housing was telling them to move to Armidale, because the rent is cheap, while he himself couldn’t afford to pay rent in Armidale and needed a mate to pick up his cheque.

It gets even worse when you remember that Joyce is on a salary of almost $400,000 a year, and that’s before you account for the generous allowances given to federal politicians. That puts him in well and truly in the top 1 percent of income earners in Australia.

If someone that wealthy can’t afford to live in Armidale without hefty financial support, what’s a struggling young person supposed to do?

If we started using the moral failings of politicians as a reason to boot them out, Canberra would be a ghost town by the end of the week (though maybe that’s a good thing). But it’s a different situation when a politician’s own choices and lifestyle clash so dramatically with what they publicly preach, as we’re seeing over and over again with Joyce.

Housing affordability isn’t a joke. It’s one of the biggest policy issues facing this country, and the government’s inability to do anything about it was already one of their most significant failures. Now that Joyce’s folksy line to “just pack up and move to the country” has been exposed as bullshit, the whole situation has become more enraging.

He wasn’t just lecturing us, he was spitting in our face. It’s one of the grossest displays of hypocrisy so far. He’s basically gaslighting an entire generation.

Osman Faruqi is the News & Politics Editor at Junkee. Follow him @Oz_f.