In the face of desperate attempts by the National Party parliamentarians to maintain that Barnaby Joyce’s sexual peccadillo with his former staffer should be a private matter, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has now come out and said that he would include in the ministerial code of conduct, a clause preventing ministers from engaging in sexual relations with their staff1. Not only does that make you wonder about the ethical makeup of his ministers, but it also makes ministers fair game for all journalists for their horizontal folk dancing with staff, something that previously has been the subject of something akin to ‘omerta’: the mafia code of silence. That may be because it was never part of a code before, so there was nothing to break. However, now there is such a code item and journalists will enjoy finding violations of the code of conduct for politicians.
If it was left to the mainstream media, perhaps nothing would happen, as was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the Barnaby Joyce story was initially reported by independents; first by website ‘truecrimenewsweekly’2 in late October, 2017, and then by the Independent3 in mid November, 2017. It was only weeks after this that the floodgates opened and the mainstream media reported on the story in detail. Prior to that they had only reported on ‘rumours’ and ‘vicious innuendo’ seemingly in defence of Joyce. Some of those jumping into the fray are ‘ruperters’ from the disgraceful Murdoch tabloids, such as the Daily Telegraph, who seem to believe it was they who broke the story.
Normally, Murdoch outlets would be very supportive of conservative buffoons such as Joyce, but to see his shambolic life splattered all over the Murdoch yellow press must make the parliamentary members of the National Party very nervous. Has Murdoch decided that Joyce is so badly on the nose, and such a risk to the government’s credibility (now there is an oxymoron!), that he has to go? One can only guess.
The important thing to remember in all of this, is that it is not Barnaby Joyce’s sex life which is at issue; it is the sense of entitlement that has allowed his paramour to get two highly paid jobs, seemingly created for her; the fact that Barnaby Joyce was paid a salary by the National party while he was campaigning in the New England by-election; the fact that he was paid a travelling allowance for 50 days in Canberra when Parliament was not sitting; the fact that he has been in rent-free accommodation with his paramour for months and which was provided by a millionaire big time donor to the National Party. And these transgressions are just the tip of the Joyce iceberg. As the cartoonist First Dog on the Moon has said: “Remember it’s not about the rooting, it’s about the rorting (alleged)”5; and so it is.