Well here’s a bit of news that impressively falls into the categories of both “well, duh” and “wait, what?”: Malcolm Turnbull has responded to the Barnaby Joyce scandal by instigating a parliament-wide bonk ban. Ministers are now barred from having sex with their staff members, regardless of whether they’re married or not.
The “well, duh” bit seems obvious – people in positions of power within the government really should not be allowed to pursue sexual relationships with their employees. But wait, what? What was the policy before all this?
Apparently, nothing, which is why Joyce hasn’t *technically* done anything wrong (if you’ll follow the PM’s extremely generous understanding of what constitutes a “partner”). But no more! As Turnbull told the press this afternoon:
We must recognise that whatever may have been acceptable, or to which a blind eye was turned in the past, today, in 2018, it is not acceptable for a minister to have a sexual relationship with somebody who works for them. It is a very bad workplace practice.
Mmm, yes, I would be inclined to agree that fucking your members of staff is a pretty bad workplace practice. Very astute, Malcolm.
#BREAKING : @TurnbullMalcolm has announced changes to the ministerial standards, including a clause that ministers, regardless whether they are married or single, must not engage in a sexual relationship with their staff. pic.twitter.com/Frg7n0VGq5
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) February 15, 2018
Turnbull also took the opportunity to chastise Joyce, not, apparently, for ushering his lover and former staffer Vikki Campion into several extremely cushy government jobs while carrying on an affair, but for dragging his wife into the public spotlight.
He has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us. Our hearts go out to them. It has been a dreadful thing for them to go through in the glare of publicity.
Marriage break-ups are dreadful. But to do it, to have it, to experience it, in the full glare of the spotlight is a dreadful business.
Let me be absolutely clear. Barnaby Joyce’s hypocrisy is appalling. His choice of partner is wildly unethical. But if Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t address the fact that everyone who knew about the affair also knew about – and ignored – Joyce’s rampant corruption (free accommodation, anyone?), then we are going to be facing a real problem. What the hell kind of show are they running down there?