One of the strangest parts of the saga of Barnaby Joyce‘s marriage ending has been the very careful language he’s used to describe his affair with staffer Vikki Campion. If you were to take it as Joyce describes it, the affair wasn’t something that he did, it was something that happened to him – as if enacted by some external force outside his control. It’s true that we don’t know the full details of the story (and likely we never will, because it’s really not our business), but we know at least that his decision to begin seeing Campion while still married to his wife Natalie was not something Natalie had agreed to or was happy with.
Despite that, Joyce has continued to describe the affair simply as his marriage ‘failing’, refusing to use any language that would indicate that he had a choice in the matter or that he had acted in an underhanded fashion. It’s not a crime for Barnaby to be horny, but it is shithouse behaviour to not act like an adult and to take responsibility for your actions. Joyce was happy to deceive his coworkers and happy to deceive voters, even going so far as to attempt to put out a Christmas card showing him with his wife and four daughters after he and Natalie had split.
According to Joyce, though, the problem is everyone else. During his week off from parliament, Joyce and Campion chose to sit down with Fairfax in the Armidale apartment for which Joyce was gifted a six-month lease by his millionaire mate Greg Maguire. In the interview, Joyce strongly reiterated his position that, frankly, everyone should just fuck off:
The tide will turn because people will get bored of it. This should be a very simple story – a bloke whose marriage broke down is in a relationship with another person and they are having a child. Now it seems to have gone into some sort of morality discussion. That’s between me and my God. I can understand how Natalie can be angry, absolutely, but how it’s other people’s business, I don’t know.
He emphasised that he doesn’t think what’s going on in his life is a big deal:
I don’t want to say have sympathy for me. I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they’re having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there.
If I was in his position, I’d probably be a little wary about highlighting the ‘commitment’ aspect of this, given his track record, but maybe that’s just me.
In a somewhat more cogent point, he expressed concern that his future son isn’t being treated with the respect he deserves, because it does seem like the fact that this will be an actual human child is getting lost in the noise of how juicy this story is:
The one thing that has deeply annoyed me is that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children, and it’s almost spoken about in the third person.
I love my daughters. I have four beautiful daughters and I love them to death. And now I will have a son. I don’t pick winners, I’m not gonna love one more than another, but I’m not going to love one less than another either.
I don’t want our child to grow up as some sort of public display. I have to stop it from the start. It’s a fact we are having a child, it’s a fact it’s a boy, it’s not more or less loved than any of my other children.
Joyce and Campion refuted claims that Campion was given a new role to the tune of $190,000 a year in Matt Canavan‘s office, presenting payslips that showed she was on $138,000 with Canavan, a small increase on her $133,000 salary in Joyce’s office.
The interview was conducted almost entirely with Joyce, with Campion refusing to be photographed and contributing to the record only a thank you to her brothers for their support throughout the fallout from the affair.
Despite the falling out with Turnbull and the various scandals that have surfaced as the affair brought further scrutiny into Joyce’s career, it seems likely that he’ll be able to survive with his position as Nationals leader intact, although it’ll be interesting to see how this affects him at the next election.
You can read the full interview here.