“Mr Joyce, is marriage a personal or political issue? Stop trying to have it both ways.”

Video via ABC News

We’ve come a long way from the original concept of marriage being a commercial/property transaction, haven’t we? Oh, to be back in the simpler times, when the biggest problem was that women were considered to be part of those transactions, and not a party to them.

As marriage has evolved over the centuries, it’s become a monster. Weddings, divorce, even, arguably, family lawyers – there are a number of industries that only exist because of marriage. It’s now a complicated concept, and a highly contentious one, especially in Australia in 2017. The sanctity of the marriage ship has well and truly sailed.

Which is something that the former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce discovered recently, when The Daily Telegraph published a piece which essentially inferred that Joyce (as DPM) had an extra-marital affair with a staffer in his office, and that affair caused some chaos in both his personal and official camps.

Listen: Mia spoke to the woman leading the Yes campaign. (Post continues after audio.)

So when he argued, during the High Court citizenship saga, that his private life has a right to privacy – well, we’ve now got some context as to what he was concerned about.

And about that privacy? You must be joking, Joyce.

But alas, he wasn’t. When asked whether he was thinking of his family when considering not running in the by-election, The Daily Telegraph reported he said, “You want straight answers and I want to give you straight answers, but not to go unnecessarily into my private life.”

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That’s understandable; privacy is something we all treasure. And he’s got the backing of some sections of the media, who argue that Joyce’s personal decisions are not a matter of national interest. The problem is, when you’re one of the topmost officials in a democratic country, that position doesn’t afford privacy as one of its privileges.

You see, if you’re on a taxpayer-funded salary, in a taxpayer-funded office, and you potentially have an affair with another taxpayer-funded staff member, not only will the nation want to know, they have a right to know. As Trump might flippantly and insensitively tell Joyce, “he knew what he signed up for.” Because as a civil servant, you are accountable, no matter how high your office – the former deputy commissioner of the Australian Tax Office, Michael Cranston, could, and will, testify to that.

Barnaby Joyce and his wife Natalie at the 43rd Golden Guitar Country Music Awards in 2015 in Tamworth. (Image via Getty.)
And then there's the bigger picture. Any power imbalance that might have happened must be investigated and addressed, because it's 2017 and we don't put up with those shenanigans anymore. Monica Lewinsky claimed that her relationship with Bill Clinton when he was President was consensual, but acknowledged there was a fundamental power imbalance, which would be inherent in any relationship with any President (aside from perhaps with his/her own spouse). It seems natural that the same would apply to the deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

But Joyce's problematic request for privacy hits its biggest wall when we consider his own words during the marriage equality debate.

The former deputy PM has always been a vocal same-sex marriage opponent, and has argued especially in the last few months that marriage is not a personal issue for an individual, but a political one that requires third party interference - from both the public (via the postal survey) and the government. He wanted Australia to have its say on how marriage applies to everyone, despite the risk of harm caused to the LGBTQI community by doing so.

In the past, Joyce used his four daughters to make his arguments. In 2011, he told an Australian Christian Lobby rally that, "We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband, and I want that to happen for them. I don't want any legislator to take that right away from me."

Because, as we all know, no-one ever cheats in a heterosexual marr- oh, wait.

And now we've come full circle to the allegations of Joyce's own possible infidelity and his potential failure to provide his wife, and thereby his family, "the best protection." We can all relate to the feeling of having your own words come back to haunt you; it's embarrassing, and incredibly inconvenient. So you can't blame the man for trying to evade attention.

I do have one question for Mr Joyce, though...if marriage is now a personal matter, why did you want this postal survey? Why is Australia answering questions about marriage equality legislation?

Mr Joyce, does your answer change when it's your marriage being scrutinised? Is marriage a personal issue or a political one? Because it looks to us like you're trying to have it both ways, which doesn't sound like you're giving it to us "straight" at all.

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