Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is living his very own soap opera, or drama, or dramedy – you decide …
Yesterday, Mr Joyce was granted leave after fallout from his decision to accept $150,000 from the Seven Network to tell the story about his affair and subsequent offspring with former staffer Vikki Campion.
After pleading for privacy with regards to his social life, Mr Joyce and Ms Campion offered to tell their story, starting a bidding war between Nine’s 60 Minutes and Seven’s Sunday Night.
Seven won the war, offering a cool $150,000 for the rights to make public Mr Joyce’s private life.
The pair claim the money will be put into a trust fund for their son, Sebastian, who will also be featured on the program.
Since Sky News presenter Paul Murray broadcast the program’s promotional video on Tuesday night, Mr Joyce’s colleagues have been livid, both publicly and privately.
Coalition backbenchers have described the move as “reeking of hypocrisy” and a “clear case of double standards”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said he would take up the issue with Mr Joyce privately, also added “It’s certainly not a course of action that I would have encouraged him to take.”
Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has also condemned Mr Joyce’s decision, saying that most Australians would be “disgusted” by his actions.
“Ultimately, it’s a matter for him and his judgment. I personally wouldn’t do it, I don’t think it’s right, and I think most Australians are pretty disgusted by it,” she told Radio National.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also criticised Mr Joyce’s decision to accept payment for an interview.
“Whilst you are a serving Member of Parliament, you have to wonder about the merit of these things,” he said.
“The court of public opinion will always determine whether a politician has crossed the line.
“He chose to go down this path, we will let the people in New England decide whether that was such a sensible thing to do.”
Surprisingly, Labor has declined to get involved in the Joyce fiasco, reportedly out of concern for his welfare, possibly taking the moral high ground, and going so far as removing one of its own MPs during his leave so as the even out the parliamentary voting numbers.
The Coalition would not normally be able to grant an extended period of leave, but with four Labor MPs resigning last month over dual citizenship scrutiny, it had some leeway. Mr Joyce will return in August after the winter break. During his break, he plans to spend time with his son and write his autobiography.
What do you think of the Barnaby Joyce saga? Does he still cut a credible political figure?