Barnaby Joyce Doesn’t Deserve Your Sympathy

He did this to himself.

Barnaby Joyce

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There are many innocent people who have been hurt in the long-running scandal over Barnaby Joyce’s affair and subsequent lovechild, but the former Deputy Prime Minister isn’t one of them.

Since it was announced last night that Joyce is taking four weeks of personal leave — meaning he won’t be seen in Canberra for a total of 11 weeks — a handful of reporters have mentioned the toll the scandal has taken on Joyce.

And no doubt that’s true. It can’t be easy to have your marriage breakdown splashed across the front pages of the papers for months on end. But there’s only one person to blame for the predicament Barnaby finds himself in, and that’s the man himself.

Joyce set this train in motion when he began an affair with a member of his own staff, and he stayed behind the controls throughout it all — through leaving his wife, through finding a new job for his new partner, through taking a week of leave when the scandal broke, through granting dozens of interviews while asking for privacy, through publicly questioning the paternity of his own child and finally, through accepting $150,000 from a TV network to tell his side of the story.

Barnaby has been in control every single step of the way, and at every step, he has acted without and sense of honour or integrity.

The Final Straw

Just when you thought we were out of straws, it was revealed over the weekend that Joyce and his partner, Vikki Campion, will accept $150,000 to sit down with Channel 7 to tell their side of the story.

After months of calling for privacy, the notion that a senior politician would earn more than double the nation’s average annual income for a single tell-all interview was too much to handle.

It’s hard to imagine how Joyce thought he could simply skate through this without losing some skin.

It was reported that the couple would put the $150,000 in a trust fund to pay for their new son’s education, as though that should somehow insulate them from criticism. But how many parents can simply throw $150,000 into a trust fund so that they won’t have to fork out for an expensive education in a few years’ time?

(Also, how many people get to take 11 weeks off work, six months into the job, while still being paid?)

As a backbencher, Joyce earns $200,000 a year. As Deputy PM, it was closer to $400,000. For a man who purports to represent the “weatherboard and iron” people of regional Australia, it’s not a great look.

Almost immediately, Joyce’s colleagues either distanced themselves from him, or flat out criticised the decision — a sure sign that your status as one of the most influential politicians in the country is waning.

Dead Man Walking

As Joyce entered Parliament yesterday, looking tired and sad, the former Deputy PM exercised another piece of shocking judgement. Speaking for the first time since his big pay day was revealed, Joyce took the chance to once again tip the bucket on his new partner.

Confronted about the decision to accept money for a media interview, Joyce didn’t accept responsibility or apologise, and he certainly didn’t pledge to cancel the interview. Instead, he blamed his partner.

“Remember, there are other people in this interview, being Vikki and Seb, so if it was just an interview with me as a politician, sure, I am not going to charge for that,” Joyce told reporters later.

“But that is not what they wanted, they wanted an interview obviously to get Vikki’s side of the story and like most mothers she said: ‘seeing as I am being screwed over and there are drones and everything over my house in the last fortnight, paparazzi waiting for me, if everybody else is making money then (I am) going to make money out of it’.”

Got it? Joyce doesn’t care about the cash. It’s Vikki’s fault.

It was almost sad to watch — a former giant of Australian politics desperately trying to claw his way out of a mess entirely of his own making.

Mercifully, by last night, Joyce had asked for some much-needed time off. The request was swiftly granted by the Nationals’ chief whip, and approved by the PM. Labor even granted a pair, meaning Joyce’s vote won’t be missed in the House. It seems everyone realised this saga needs to be put out of its misery.

Joyce now has 11 weeks at home to think about the consequences of his actions. Hopefully he’ll think about all of the people who have been harmed by them — his wife, his new partner, his daughters, his new son, and the electorate that returned him to Parliament only six months ago.

But one person who absolutely doesn’t deserve sympathy is Joyce himself.