Politics

Barnaby Joyce Is Literally Trying To Use The Same Excuse As Ross From ‘Friends’

The One Where Barnaby Was On A Break.

This morning Barnaby Joyce addressed a press pack for the first time since his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion was publicised.

With the growing scandal threatening to engulf his political career, and new revelations emerging daily, Joyce decided to stand his ground and deny any wrongdoing (before leaving without taking a single question).

He strongly denied new allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a woman in a Canberra bar in 2011, and provided a new timeline regarding his relationship with Campion in an attempt to refute suggestions he had breached ministerial standards.

According to the Statement on Ministerial Standards, partners of ministers aren’t supposed to be employed in the offices of other ministers without the express permission of the Prime Minister. Campion was shifted from Joyce’s office to fellow Nationals minister Matt Canavan’s office last year, which on the surface looks like a potential breach of the standards.

Yesterday the PM’s office denied ministerial standards had been breached, arguing that Campion wasn’t technically Joyce’s “partner”, because Joyce was still with his wife. Last night on 7:30 Treasurer Scott Morrison got behind that argument, telling Leigh Sales that Joyce “can’t have two partners at the same time and he was obviously still married”.

It’s an intriguing line of defence, especially since we know that Joyce was having an affair with Campion, and that was reportedly the catalyst leading to her moving into Canavan’s office.

But now we finally have an answer from the man himself.

Barnaby’s Excuse

In his statement this morning Joyce said “I am very aware of the Ministerial Code of Conduct”.

“It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now. But when she worked in my office, she was not my partner. When she worked in Matt Canavan’s office, she was not my partner.”

A couple of hours later Joyce issued another statement further clarifying the situation. This time Joyce explained that Campion joined his staff in August 2016, and their “friendship subsequently developed and that became, over time, more”.

He went on to say that he and his wife attempted to reconcile in April 2017, around the same time Campion moved into Canavan’s office.

Essentially Joyce is arguing that because he and Campion had temporarily stopped being in a relationship in April, the ministerial standards didn’t apply. His defence is basically “we were on a break”. Which literally makes him Ross Gellar, from Friends.

“We Were On A Break!”

In the 15th episode of Friends‘ third season (‘The One Were Ross and Rachel Take A Break’), on-again-off-again couple Ross Gellar and Rachel Green have an argument that culminates in them agreeing to take a “break” from the relationship.

Soon after, Ross, the giant man-baby idiot that he is, mistakenly assumes Rachel is sleeping with her colleague Mark and decides to have a one-night stand in retaliation.

Rachel and Ross attempt in reconcile in a later episode, but Ross’ affair becomes public knowledge. When Rachel accuses him of cheating on her, Ross exclaims “We were on a break!”, leading to one of the show’s longest running gags.

Despite Ross trying to use the ‘Ross Defence’ at least half a dozen times throughout the show’s run, it never really works, which doesn’t bode well for Barnanby.

It is pretty convenient for Joyce that he was on a break at precisely the same time Campion moved offices, negating any application of the ministerial standards. But what still hasn’t been explained is what prompted the move in the first place, and whether her subsequent job in the office of Nationals whip Damian Drum, taken up once she and Joyce had reconciled, was above board.