On Sunday night’s episode of The Project, host Lisa Wilkinson reflected on Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair with a former staffer, and stated that his “position is becoming untenable”.
In a piece to camera, the journalist asked a poignant question: “What if the genders were reversed?
”What if a female Deputy PM who had risen to power on the often thunderous promotion of her family values, was suddenly revealed to be having a secret affair, and was now pregnant to a staffer more than 15 years her junior?”
The hypothetical scenario borders on laughable – because in no world would we afford that woman privacy, let alone allow her to keep her job.
”What if we found,” she continued, “that staffer had been moved to a newly created, well paid, tax payer funded position nearby, and if she had left her husband and four children to move in with him?
”Would Malcolm Turnbull continue to say: ‘There’s nothing to see here?'”
It is a storyline that’s very hard to entertain.
Lisa Wilkinson asks whether or not Barnaby Joyce can survive on The Project. Post continues below.
But at the core of Wilkinson’s monologue was a point we mustn’t forget: There is one protagonist in this story. Not two. Certainly not six. But one.
And that protagonist is Barnaby Joyce himself.
The questions we ought to be asking are about him – and whether or not this was simply a private affair, or a serious breach of political power.
On Monday morning, radio host Em Rusciano echoed the same sentiment.
”My concern is it has become about the two women and Barnaby is out of the spotlight and in my opinion, we should be focusing down on Barnaby Joyce’s job as a politician and has this affected the way he is governing our country.
”Let’s not get distracted,” she said.
”I feel yucky talking about his daughters and his former wife and his mistress and for me it doesn’t sit well in my gut,” Rusciano continued.
LISTEN: We discuss Barnaby Joyce’s actions on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
Ultimately, we should not reduce the tale of our Deputy PM expecting a baby with his former media adviser – a woman who is not his wife – as salacious and titillating gossip.
The women in this story did not ask to be thrust into the media spotlight, and as much as a prurient part of ourselves might want to know more about Vikki Campion, she is not who this story is about.
What we deserve to know is whether Joyce used his position to design a highly-paid, entirely new role, epecially for Campion.
We deserve to know if there was inappropriate expenditure of taxpayer funds.
We also deserve to know, if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull knew, and if he turned a blind eye.
Morality aside, Joyce did not breach his contract by having an extramarital affair.
But to cover it up by drawing on public funds?
Now that is a very different story – and most definitely our business.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.