The alleged bum-pincher with the side-eye is how The Daily Telegraph would like you to remember Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, amid calls for his resignation over speculation he was having an affair with a younger employee.
First, there was last week’s front page that showed Joyce’s new partner and former media advisor Vikki Campion, 33, heavily pregnant with his child.
Yesterday, came the allegations from a woman who says Joyce, 50, drunkenly pinched her on the bottom after the Rural Women’s Agricultural Awards in Canberra in 2015.
And today, the cover of The Daily Telegraph shows Joyce apparently perving on Campion at an official farm summit in November 2016.
— Christopher Dore (@wrongdorey) February 13, 2018
The look from Joyce appraising Campion’s figure makes you shudder. It’s sleazy, distasteful and the nation this morning is questioning: Is this the man we want in the second most powerful seat in Australian parliament?
Remembering, Joyce is due to step up to the role of Acting Prime Minister when Malcolm Turnbull travels to the US next week on February 21.
But more than the image itself, is the time it was taken.
In November 2016, Campion was working under Joyce as his media advisor. Since the affair has been made public, Joyce has vehemently denied the pair were ever involved at the time of Campion’s employment, as this would breach ministerial standards. Campion was working for Joyce until July 2017.
Adding to this, Joyce and his estranged wife Natalie Joyce only publicly announced their separation in December last year. They have four children together and Joyce’s fifth child with Campion is due in April.
A picture sure does tell a thousand words. I’m imagining there’s going to be a photo a day released until Barnaby withdraws to the backbench.
— ????????AJ Tiger???????? (@thenewstiger) February 13, 2018
And thus we can be sure – absolutely sure – that for the Tele at least it was always about Deputy Prime Minster having sex rather than the use of public funds or the free rent or any of the other legit targets.
— John_Hempton (@John_Hempton) February 13, 2018
If tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph is the front page that will end Barnaby (as some suggest), then the public’s priority is wrong. He should go because he behaved in a way that undermines public trust in the government: not because he had a consenting relationship with another adult
— Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf) February 13, 2018
Speculation around the timing of the affair, and the appropriateness of Joyce’s conduct as the leader of the Nationals party, has led to a handful of federal politicians angling for his resignation.
As the debate rages, there’s one thing to remember.
Yes, the image on the Daily Telegraph front page is gross and – as the newspaper’s headline reads – a “bad look”. But it is not the issue.
LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss Kate Langbroek’s comments, which place a lot of blame on Vikki Campion. Post continues after.
The issue is whether Joyce used his position of power to cover up an affair with an employee when he knew it was against the rules of ministerial conduct.
If you are his wife, or his children, or someone who took offence at his staunch opposition of same-sex marriage, the issue might be Joyce’s treatment of his own marriage and his careless disregard for his family.
If you are his party members, or in his electorate, your issue might be that he undermined your trust as a responsible and upstanding candidate.
If he’s lying about the affair and when it began, that is an issue.
If he’s guilty of sexual harassment, that, too, is an issue.
If he used taxpayer money to enable his relationship with Campion, that is an issue.
It’s time to move the debate away from Joyce’s side-eye and Campion’s hair twirling, and instead focus on the man and politician himself.