OPINION: As news broke on Wednesday of Deputy Prime Minister and National’s leader Barnaby Joyce’s new pregnant girlfriend, it was revealed that the story had become a well-known secret around the capital as the government did everything they could to try and bury the story.
In a year following one of the most divisive social policy debates in Australia’s history, where members of the public were asked to give their opinion on allowing same-sex couples to marry, it is a bit rich that members of parliament claim that their private life is none of the country’s business.
I beg to differ for a number of reasons.
Firstly, if you ask the country to vote on the validity of same-sex couples relationships and their ability to marry, while you claim that laws should not be changed because of the sanctity of traditional marriage should be upheld, you have lost all right to privacy within your own relationship. As the ALP claimed at the time of the postal plebiscite, this has indeed set a precedent and not one the coalition would have expected.
During the same-sex marriage postal survey I wrote a heartfelt article titled, Why It Hurts So Bad. My editorial explains how the debate was affecting me and how my very worth was being judged.
If it is ok for my relationship, my worth, my very self to be decided in this way, it has opened the door for politicians to have their relationship and their worth examined by the public like never before.
Second, it is also important to remember that elected representatives campaign for your vote on ideals such as family values and morals. Candidates are quick to point out flaws of their opponents, whether personal or not, and political parties will spend thousands of dollars investigating people’s private lives in the hope of a story.
I therefore find it reprehensible that our deputy prime minister fronted the cameras last night, not to explain his reasons for the mess he finds himself in but insist that the story is no one else’s business and should have been kept private.
While declaring that the saga was “one of the great failures of my life,” the national’s leader was quick to go into protection mode by claiming it was no one’s business and, he did not see how the story serves any political purpose.
“I can’t quite fathom why basically a pregnant lady walking across the road deserves (the) front page. I don’t know what the political purpose is to that.
“It’s a private matter. I don’t think it helps me. I don’t think it helps my family. I don’t think it helps anybody in the future for us to start making this part of the public discussion,” Mr Joyce told ABC’s 7:30 Report Wednesday night.
The Australian on Thursday reported that the government went to “enormous lengths” to keep the story from the headlines. They reported that the government was “actively obstructing any attempt by any number of journalists” who were looking into the story.
I feel that it does serve a purpose. For elected representatives who fight on morality and honourable values, their personal lives are in the public domain. The personal lives of husbands and wives and any children are quite rightly off limits, however this does not allow for bad behaviour to go unreported.