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Gadfly 31


No one wants to be holier-than-thou when ‘private’ behaviour suddenly gets thrust upon us, like Barnaby Joyce’s dalliance with his attractive staffer, Vikki Campion that turned into something much more serious when she became pregnant. This is especially true of the Canberra Press Gallery, of which I was once a member. Their reasons, I have to tell you, are mixed. They say they keep such stories ‘private’ because, if they don’t impinge on the miscreant’s professional conduct, there’s no justification for publishing them. But how do you judge whether the emotional turmoil of a separation from a long-time loving wife and the devastation of the four daughters involved doesn’t impinge on Barnaby’s professional judgement. Of course it does. In fact, some of the things he said recently about supporting Trump’s idea of erecting trade barriers against China (our biggest trading partner), and then having to back away next day, suggest a Deputy Prime Minister in need of a few more hours sleep at night. When he took a hardline stand against same sex marriage in the Parliament while he was leaving his wife for a pregnant partner (albeit of the opposite sex) he was unquestionably acting in his professional role. And when he kept his ‘separation’ secret during his recent byelection, that was patently deceiving the very voters he sought to represent in the Parliament. So how is that a ‘private’ matter that doesn’t impinge on his professional conduct? And here’s the rub: the Press Gallerians now boast they’d known all about it for weeks! Fair go chaps. In a Parliament of 150 Members and 76 Senators in a House containing more than 2000 workers, of course there are going to be attractions. Cupid’s darts are fashioned by Propinquity. Indeed, some of his most delicate shafts will enter the hearts of the Gallerians themselves. And that’s the other side of the story – many of them have leapt across that moral barrier into the arms of another. So their excuse for silence is ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ There is, of course, another more thoughtful middle road. Truth is, in the hothouse, high-strung atmosphere of politics, people of all age and stripe are vulnerable to the occasional slip from the straight and narrow path. And if it’s no more than a passing fancy, then what’s the harm? Except, of course, to the trust of a partner waiting faithfully at home. Trouble is, once that moral barrier is crossed, who knows what wild entanglements await on the other side. And while no one expects the Gallerians to set an example to the world, our political representatives are quite another matter. A fish rots from the head down and Barnaby - with his stunning resemblance to a Murray Cod - is a big fish in our political pond. And when he told Leigh Sales that Vikki Campion was simply part of his ‘greatest failure’, you had to wonder about the awful impact not just on the abandoned wife and daughters but on his new love herself. In fact, you couldn’t help but think, ‘This bloke fouls the water.’ robert@robertmacklin.com ​


#Opinion #RobertMacklin #Weekly #Books #Federal #LocalStateFederal #Reading

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