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After three years, Barnaby Joyce has returned as Deputy PM. Here are 5 things we can't forget.

On Monday morning, shortly before 11:30am, Barnaby Joyce got his job back.

It was a leadership spill that had been bubbling away for days and now it's official: Joyce is the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, and leader of the National Party again, after a three-year hiatus. 

But it's the nature of this hiatus that we mustn't forget. 

Nationals MP Michelle Landry put it succinctly in an interview with news.com this morning in which she remarked, "I think that if he became leader again there would be women out there that would be unhappy with that."

Well, she's right about that one.

Watch: Barnaby Joyce had strong views on women’s right to choose in NSW. Post continues after video.


Video by Mamamia

This isn't the first time Barnaby has attempted to take back his old job. He tried and failed in February 2020.

He says he's been spending the last three years “reflecting” on his wrongdoings, but if the interview he gave to the Today Show during his first attempt to get his job back is anything to go by, he doesn’t actually know what they are.

“What are they and what have you learnt?” host Allison Langdon asked him last year.

“Of course, I have got to make sure that we have a strong team. It is not about Barnaby, it is about the team,” Mr Joyce said.

“No, no, but you talked about yourself personally reflecting on your faults. I’m asking you what are those faults and what have you learnt?” Langdon pressed.

“Yes, of course. I’m enthusiastic, and sometimes enthusiastic becomes too enthusiastic and leaves people behind. You have to take it down a cog, you’ve got to make sure that first and foremost, you’re listening to other people and hearing what their concerns are,” he replied.

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It wasn't even remotely what Langon was referring to. 

So let’s have a look through the last few years of Joyce’s career, and consider what the public actually consider to be his ‘wrongdoings’.

He had an affair with his staffer, while preaching about the sanctity of marriage.

Joyce was (and is) a fierce family values conservative, and spoke openly about the importance of Australians respecting the sanctity of marriage. He did this while cheating on his wife with Vikki Campion, his employee.

During the same-sex marriage debate in December 2017, he made it clear he didn’t believe in marriage equality, arguing it would fundamentally degrade an institution founded on traditional notions of love and partnership.

Meanwhile, he was blowing up his relationship with his wife of 24 years – with whom he shares four daughters – while expecting a baby with another woman.

Barnaby Joyce news
Barnaby, Vikki and their son Sebastian. Image: Seven.

At the time, he asked the media to refrain from "unnecessarily delving into [my] private life," which seemed ironic given the national conversation about same-sex relationships.

His former wife Natalie gave a statement in response to the news, saying: “I am deeply saddened by the news that my husband has been having an affair and is now having a child with a former staff member. I understand that this affair has been going on for many months and started when she was a paid employee.

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“This situation is devastating on many fronts. For my girls who are affected by the family breakdown and for me as a wife of 24 years, who placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life."

Natalie, Barnaby and their four daughters. Image: Facebook.

He allegedly sexually harassed a woman.

It was actually this, not the affair, that eventually pushed Barnaby Joyce to resign from Cabinet.

He was accused of sexually harassing Catherine Marriott, a farmer, businesswoman and former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year at a function in 2016.

"I requested that a formal and confidential investigation into this incident be undertaken by the National Party to ensure there is accountability in relation to the incident I raise, and to prevent this type of inappropriate behaviour towards women in the future,” Ms Marriott said in her statement in February 2018.

"This complaint was not made solely to address the incident against me – it is about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions.”

Catherine has never spoken about the alleged incident in detail, but has repeatedly described its profound impact on her.

Catherine Marriott
Catherine Marriott on ABC's 7:30. Image: ABC.
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"I walked up to my hotel room and burst into tears. I then couldn’t sleep that whole night. I actually didn’t sleep for a week,” she told the ABC.

"I rang two of my closest friends and I told them what had happened, and they said they couldn't believe... they were just absolutely shocked, and they said, 'You can't tell anyone. You cannot tell anyone... you will be destroyed if this comes out'."

That was enough for her to keep quiet initially, fearing a public scandal.

"When it happened, he was the agriculture minister. He was a very popular agriculture minister at that time, and I didn’t... I was... I’m just a little human against a big system, and I was terrified," she said.

It was the death of Dolly Everett in January 2018, and her words "speak even if your voice shakes" that ultimately inspired Marriott to speak out.

The Nationals Party eventually found after an eight-month investigation that there was insufficient evidence to support the accusations.

"That is one of the most frightening things that you will ever have to live through," Marriott told ABC's 7.30 after the investigation wrapped up.

"The control that I had over my own identity was taken away, and that’s something that I will live with for the rest of my life, and I think it was really unfair, it was really horrific."

Marriott believes her name was leaked to the public from within the National Party.

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Joyce told the ABC: "I firmly believe the complaint to be spurious and defamatory.

"This allegation should have been dealt with immediately [after] the complainant first believed there was an issue they wished to pursue, and the passage of nearly a year and a half since the time of the event to when the allegation was raised has not allowed a clearer determination on this issue."

He publicly opposed abortion rights.

Joyce took an aggressive stance in the NSW abortion debate (despite being a federal minister), calling it the "slavery debate of our time".

In August 2019, Joyce made it clear he was directly opposed to a woman's right to choose, standing in parliament and stating:

"On the first of June, Vikki’s and my son Tom took his first breath.

"This was not the start of his life. The reality is he was part of this world for some time and was merely passing from one room to another.

"Inside the womb, Tom kicked, punched, grabbed his umbilical cord, felt pain, slept and dreamed – to say he didn’t have the rights of other human life is to say he must be sub-human.

"I don’t believe that any person, any doctor, any parliament has the power today to declassify another person as less than human and by so doing removing their most fundamental right to be alive."

abortion
After months of heated debate, NSW decriminalised abortion in 2019. Image: Getty.
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Ultimately, NSW decriminalised abortion in September 2019.

He suggested the Greens were responsible for the bushfires.

In November 2019, after two people died in bushfires in northern NSW, Joyce commented that they were "most likely" Greens voters. The comments were deeply hurtful to friends and family of the victims, and was an attempt to push a political narrative about the Greens being responsible for Australia's bushfire crisis - an argument that has since been debunked.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann were forced to publicly denounce Joyce's comments.

He thinks climate change is a "hobby horse".

During the bushfires of 2019/2020, Joyce warned colleagues against allowing bushfires to be used for advancing “hobby horse” issues, in a thinly veiled reference to climate change while at a joint Coalition party room meeting.

He said people were trying to push their “hobby horse” issues out of the tragedies.

"We need always to remember those who get hurt from any suggestions and policies when people are pursuing reactionary approaches,” he said.

In his comments, he effectively undermined the expertise of 274 scientists, who sent a letter to the government outlining the exact links between climate change and the bushfires.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports his return to the top job in 2021, was in part persuaded because of concern within the party room that the Nationals weren't pushing strongly enough against Scott Morrison's talk of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

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By returning Joyce, they've returned a more "aggressive" approach to this issue.

How Australia is reacting to the news of Barnaby Joyce's return.

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Feature image: AAP.

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