Turnbull launches a withering attack on Joyce

Like Labor, Turnbull and the Liberal Party had so far regarded Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with former staffer Vikki Campion as a private matter. As long as everything had been done within formal regulations, it didn’t matter that jobs had been found for Campion when her presence in Joyce’s office was no longer viable. It didn’t matter that a mate had given him free accommodation in Armidale, or that he had spent 50 nights in Canberra at taxpayers expense when parliament was not sitting.

All that changed when Turnbull launched a withering attack on his morals, his judgement and his character, and went on to say that forthwith no minister will have sex with a staff member under the new ministerial code of conduct. Moreover, Joyce was sent to the naughty corner to think about his position and his future by being sent on leave, rather than act as prime minister when Turnbull is overseas next week.

It was more than a vote of no confidence. As Mark Kenny said in the SMH, the message was that Joyce’s position as Deputy PM was not viable.

Except that he didn’t say it in so many words. Phillip Coorey in the AFR probably has it about right.

Turnbull’s harsh judgement on his deputy’s behaviour and the call for him to consider his future infuriated Joyce and will cause deep harm to their working relationship and possibly within the Coalition. However, as a result of Turnbull’s intervention, Joyce has even less intention of stepping down.

Here’s the full text of what Turnbull said. It included:

    Barnaby has given me, as I said in the House, an unequivocal assurance that he has complied with the ministerial standards and with both the use and reporting of ministerial and other entitlements.

    But I think we know that the real issue is the terrible hurt and humiliation that Barnaby by his conduct has visited on his wife, Natalie, and their daughters, and indeed, his new partner.

    Barnaby made a shocking error of judgment in having an affair with a young woman working in his office. In doing so 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 breakups are dreadful. But to do it, to have it, to experience it, in the full glare of the spotlight, is a dreadful business.

    Now, Barnaby knows he made that shocking error of judgment. He knows he let down his wife and daughters. And he has apologised for that. And to them. And he is taking leave next week.

    And I’ve encouraged him to take that leave. I think he needs that leave. He needs that time to reflect. He needs that time to seek forgiveness and understanding from his wife and girls. He needs to make a new home for his partner and their baby that is coming in April.

He then goes on to criticise the “culture of this place”, that is, the parliament, talking about the need for integrity and respect. And:

    “Ministers must recognise that while they are entitled to privacy in personal matters, they occupy positions of great responsibility and public trust. The public have high expectations of them in terms of their personal conduct and decorum.

    “Ministers should be very conscious that their spouses and children sacrifice a great deal so they can carry on their political career and their families deserve honour and respect.

    “Ministers should also recognise that they must lead by example. Values should be lived.”

His opinion of Barnaby could hardly be more clear.

Katherine Murphy thinks that Turnbull’s sex ban has thrown petrol on a political bonfire and has abruptly altered the rules of engagement. From now on what had been considered private will very much be public, and the press will be obliged to report on it.

Newspoll comes out again next week, I think, so any move will be credited to the Joyce affair. Essential Report on Tuesday had Labor ahead 54-46 TPP. People should pause to think about the raw party vote. The Nationals with 3% come in after Labor on 37, the Liberals on 33, the Greens on 10, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation on 6 and Xenophon on 4%.

Paddy Manning in The Monthly lets fly about the preposterous influence this splinter party has.

    This shouty, angry man … has his foot on the throat of the prime minister, by virtue of a secret Coalition agreement in which the National Party constrains the Liberal Party. From water to climate change to same-sex marriage and whatever else is in there, the Coalition agreement is a hidden handbrake on this country, giving the Nationals influence out of all proportion to their constituency.

Manning says:

    After the 2016 election, Joyce said his first aspiration was that the Coalition agreement “remains confidential … that’s aspiration number one, two, three, four, five and six.”

Other countries would not stand for it, for example New Zealand or Germany, and Gillard published the terms of her working agreement for her minority government in 2013. For two years Labor’s shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon has been campaigning to get the Coalition agreement released, without success.

Bernard Keane at Crikey says Joyce has always been a dud and should never have been Deputy PM. His basic charge is that Joyce lacks judgment and any interest in detail or consequences, and Turnbull must have lost count of the times when “Joyce’s ineptitude has inflicted serious damage on a government that wants desperately to talk about massive jobs growth, an improving budget situation and its plans for the defence industry.”

    The real point is that, both in policy and political terms, Joyce has always been a flake, and should never have even been a frontbencher, let alone the ostensibly second-most powerful man in Australia.

This contrasts with Joyce’s supporters within his own party, where Queensland Nationals Barry O’Sullivan’s advice says ‘don’t shoot your best horse’ because he jumped the fence and was found in the neighbour’s paddock.”

Andrew Clark in the AFR sees Turnbull as finally taking control and making his own running as PM. If it doesn’t work Malcolm will be in more than a muddle.

The point is that Turnbull hasn’t taken control because he can’t. Joyce may be contrite:

but as AFR cartoonist David Rowe depicts, chances are he’ll still be there:

and while he is Turnbull will be pensive, worried and ultimately powerless:

Meanwhile the story has been picked up in the New York Times – Politician’s Affair Puts Spotlight on Australia’s Crony Culture. They talked to Susan Harris Rimmer, a law professor at Griffith University in Queensland, who said the whole affair will reduce the already low esteem in which Australians hold their politicians. She does seem to think there is a genuine culture problem in the operating parliament:

    “It is not a healthy place,” Professor Rimmer said. “It runs on alcohol and gossip and fumes and power.”

For Turnbull the joy with which he greeted the re-election of Joyce late last year must be a very distant memory:

However, Matthias Cormann says Turnbull and Joyce have a good relationship and can work together. That makes it official, so we can all relax.

57 thoughts on “Turnbull launches a withering attack on Joyce”

  1. Joyce has just had a press conference in which he criticised Turnbull’s statement yesterday saying some of his comments were “inept” and “caused further harm”.

    He has made it clear that he is going nowhere, to do so would mean that his resignation had been forced over a personal matter.

    He also pointed out that he had been subject to death threats, and publishing where he was living was not helpful.

    Turnbull had a few minutes earlier made a statement that he has confidence in the Deputy PM who is chosen by the National Party.

  2. All moralistic stuff aside, it’s a rollicking balls up and an indictment of our sorry state of politics.
    The Americans would say it does not compare to Trump, the French would wonder why the fuss. We make it a national event.

    It’s by no means the first “liaison” in politics. Jim Cairns and Ms Junie Morosi, Gareth Evans and others no doubt.

  3. Turnbull’s new rule re no sex with staff will make it easier to blackmail a government minister. It is also a put down to staff who are usually dedicated , hard workers for the minister and his party
    In terms of propriety the real issue is misuse of taxes for personal purposes. I seem to recall that the bloke who misused cab charges was sacked from the speakership and faced criminal charges. Be interesting to know if Barnaby has misspent more that this?

  4. Good point re Peter Slipper, JohnD. I don’t agree so much on the other point. I think the rule would be deployed where a problem became obvious and delivering an instant dismissal.

  5. Speaking as a former staffer for an ALP senator, staffers for MPs and Senators should be neither seen nor heard by the public.

  6. The media made that ” yesterday’s news ” pretty dammed quick.

    How true. I can understand the ABC and Fairfax (lefty swill) but what has Rupert Murdoch got against Australia?

  7. Whoa, a cryptic strawman, cool.
    Do tell zoot.

    Regardless, Turnbull is the same spineless media whore still fawning for the same love that got him where he is. When will he see the leftist media just used his ego for their ends.
    Shorten can be assured political danger will be minimised by a simple ” I’ve had a stern word ” or ” I’m confident of our vetting process ” or ” those allegations ( rape ) have been throughly investigated ”

    Makes one wonder where the #metoo boosters are on that last one.

  8. Jumpy

    On BS.

    Have a look at the facts.
    The complainant came forward decades later. There were no witnesses. Have you noticed how often that is the case, with sexual assault or rape? Can you imagine why??

    The police decided they couldn’t lay charges. You must be aware that the police often find themselves in that position.

    Not because of political interference or bribery or incompetence. Just because of the lack of credible evidence.

    Personally, I prefer a system where police can issue a caution for very minor offences, and where a case lacking evidence can lapse. Presumption of innocence, cobber.

    But let’s stop talking in generalities: you may know better. Were you lurking nearby on the night in question??? Took notes did you?

  9. Yes, Scott.

    And when they do become visible it often ends in tears.

    Junie Morosi.
    Peta somebody.
    A couple of Kevin Rudd’s lieutenants.
    Ainslie Gotto.
    Some intern in Washington DC back in the 1990s.


  10. Mr A
    I’m merely pointing out the partisan hypocrisy of our current dominant media players.
    It affects the swinging %10 that decide elections.

    The evidence is overwhelming to all but the most ardent media bias deniers.
    Other on the left believe it, admit it but support it anyway.

  11. Whoa, a cryptic strawman, cool.

    Huh? It appears the concept “strawman” escapes you.
    Last time I looked Rupert’s flying monkeys were still part of The Media (which made that yesterday’s news pretty dammed quick).
    No strawmen they.

  12. Jumpy, I’ve followed your links at 2.20pm and it is simply not true to say that Tony Bourke did Barnaby and Dastyari did.

  13. The ABC is clearly the most dominant news outlets in this country.
    Being able to run at over a $1,000,000,000 loss annually enables that.

  14. Jumpy, the Bourke instances were different, were within the rules it seems. I think we’ve moved on. In the case of personal expenses, Bourke has admitted that what he got was beyond community expectations.

    One of the differences is that he is not Deputy PM and didn’t go hard on family values.

  15. To be fair Brian, Jumpy makes a valid point, he’s just a bit myopic about it. The ABC runs at a loss (which he probably underestimates) but it pales into insignificance compared to the losses we absorb each year from our defence forces, our police, nurses and emergency services, our roads, and our gulags on Manus and Nauru.
    Why are Australians incapable of turning a profit? It’s just not good enough!

  16. … not to mention the losses we make, subsidising the training of apprentices for the building trade….

    and then when a copper tries to turn things round by getting some cash from a decent, entrepreneurial substance retailer*, or lock and security camera expert**, he gets humiliated in the left wing press and dragged before some loss-making magistrate and sent to a loss-making prison.

    just because he showed some flair and initiative!!

    * name blackened by MSM as “drug dealer”
    ** ditto defamed as a “safe breaker”

  17. I stand corrected and suitably penitent.

    Nowadays, not all prisons are loss-making.


  18. Ambigulous, with the greatest of regret I must correct your correction.
    While it is true that nowadays some of our prisons are sub contracted to private operators, no Australian Prisons Department (Department of Corrections in the West) has ever run at a profit. They should hang their collective heads in shame.

  19. I regret your regretful correction. I wished to indicate, that if some enterprising prisons could turn a profit, the others should jolly well buck up and lift their games.

    Then whole Depts could be in that most exalted position: in the black.

    It is also worthy of note that the Universities which make the smallest losses are those with no students.

  20. Fairfax sez Mr Turnbull has met his Deputy PM face-to-face in Sydney for an hour.

    They have agreed to put the saga behind them.

    “Get thee behind me, Saga!!” quoth MT.

    “When I said inept, I meant ept”, quoth BJ.

    And that was the end of that.

  21. Zoot nicely put about “profitable” government. I expect government to run at a staggering loss. It’s more about how they arrive at that loss that I find interesting.
    Cost of government should use taxpayers funds wisely and appropriately, irrespective of Party. I don’t think that Tony Burke should be less accountable because he was not in high office at the time, nor because it was so long ago. If I recall, he was one of the louder shrills over Bronwyn Bishop’s choppergate.
    It will be interesting when we start to see more “millennials” take office especially if their stereotype has any validity. I think also the voter demographic age profile will soon have the 50+ cohort in the majority, and that could have some impact. Maybe we will see a “Grey Party” emerge, shuffling their way into the chambers and enacting legislation that might skew benefits towards their constituents.

  22. Thanks BilB, that looks like a beautifully prepared report, all 272 pages of it. Too much to read right now, heavily into reading Trump books and another that makes the case that Lyndon Johnson killed John Kennedy.

  23. Hi Geoff, As you are interested in affordable accommodation, I don’t know if you saw the work I am doing on promoting the creation of a new property title called the Capital Growth Restrained Property Title (CGRPT). The will be a website http://www.cgrpt.com soon where the whole approach is laid out and there will be opportunity to do a survey and make comments for and against. Simply though with this device a person can create a new property (land and building) and with the CGRPT title that property thereafter accrues in value at the published CPI rate. The purpose of it is to create a means to provide property that does not fall prey to the vagaries of the market and will stay indefinitely affordable as its value is linked to wage growth and affordable spending levels. Why would any one do that? Good question! There are a whole lot of reasons.

    Keep your eye out for the website going on line. It will be some weeks, so no rush.

  24. Newspoll has found that 65% of their sample think BJ should resign.

    At that level, the margin of error (about 2.5%) doesn’t really matter.

    It’s a clear majority.

    Sample size, just above 1600.

  25. Ambi I am very interested both in fnq and in SA where I have a mate in gov doing affordable. Please keep me in the loop.

  26. The problem is Ambi that non of the Nat MP’s want the job of rubber stamping the Libs. They are all to disinterested or lazy, the MP gig is meant to be a junket with benefits. That is why they are unanimous in claiming Rejoicing Joyce for his efforts as a great bar slobLeader.

  27. This has been a barnanza for headline writers.
    The Joy-ce of Non-Sex

    Newspoll 2PP ALP:Coalition 53:47

  28. According to the Betoota Advocate, Mr BJ moved across the Dutch from the town of Whakastawha.

    Kiwis, eh?!!

  29. Scott (4:43pm 16th): Heartily agree with you. Children should be seen and heard – but not staffers.
    Far too often, staffers get the idea that it is they, and not the Member or Senator, who are running the show.
    Nothing new in this, interfering court eunuchs caused a lot of trouble in both the Ottoman and the Chinese empires.

  30. A mighty victory has been won by the seventeen-member (nationwide) Puritanism And Decency Enforcement League, (formerly known as the Home For Homeless Homing Pigeons Benevolent Trust – until that unfortunate matter of those fraud investigations).

    My main concern is that the compulsory Chastity Belts being issued will have electronic locks on them; these are subject to hacking whereas the mechanical locks have a 900-year history of reliability ….

    Seriously though, how feeble-minded are we that we have allowed a bunch of agenda-fabricators to distract us and our government from the important business of government, especially in a time of peril?

    Was Barnaby Joyce’s behaviour bad and foolish? Undoubtedly. Is he incompetent. No. Should he continue to represent his electorate? That’s up to his electorate. Would he make an effective Prime Minister. Not my first choice but – yes. So why the blue-blazes are we allowing ourselves to be distracted by this celebrity/bully show?

  31. The Federal Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, is on tonight’s ABC Q&A. I wonder whether the real issues will be talked about – climate change, resource depletion, energy transition – or will it all be about distractions?

    I posted 8 web questions (19 Feb 2018 10:52am onwards), link here.

  32. Geoff H

    Your mate in gov “doing affordable”….
    Is that affordable housing?
    Affordable electricity?

    On the other side of the ledger, Mr BJ has very affordable housing at the moment.

  33. Very informative about the Chastity Belts, Graham Bell.

    Your observation about hacking is worrying. Did the Russians hack any candidates’ belts during the US 2016 erection?

    I must say, my favourite Hacker is still Jim.

  34. Ambi I have interest in both, but I was referring to housing. Both are huge topics.
    Since you mention electricity though, it seems that we are being peppered with new renewable energy projects. If so many come on line we should see benefits such as environmental damage but also the price of power should reduce.
    But I an worried that the market administrators will be allowed to siphon off the cost benefits provided by the suppliers (wind farms, solar, pumped hydro). I

  35. Geoff M.:
    Do like your set of very awkward questions. 🙂

    Also like your comment there, “Good planets are difficult to come by.

  36. Graham Bell (Re: FEBRUARY 20, 2018 AT 6:21 AM):

    Do like your set of very awkward questions.

    Yes, they do seem to be very awkward questions for some people.

    I rang Minister Josh Frydenberg’s office today to draw attention to these questions and left my contact details.

    Frydenberg referred to cheap fossil fuel energy in the US, on Q&A last night. I highlighted the recently published Shale Reality Check report to his office today.

    Interesting to see whether a response is forthcoming.

    I also flagged my Q&A questions to:
    Fed Shadow Minister for Climate Change & Energy, Mark Butler’s office;
    NSW Energy Minister, Don Harwin’s office;
    and a few others.

    Just another ‘nudge’ for our pollies.

    Interesting that Q&A still hasn’t published a transcript of last night’s show – they must be short-staffed today.

  37. I gave up on Q and A last night when a panellist said that the “Canberra sex ban” was to stop a Minister having sexual relations with another Minister. Said it twice. Compere eventually corrected her.

    Recently several viewers have suggested that weach QandA should be on a narrow topic, with experts on the panel and no politicians.

    IMO it would enable more interesting discussions. Keep the audience/viewer questions, avoid the boring stage-managing they do on “Insight”. On the panel: fewer comedians, actors, novelists please. And Germaine has had a fair run.

  38. So has Louise Adler.

    MUP was once a dependable, serious university/academic press.

    In recent years it has chased publicity by issuing scholarly tomes such as the autobiography of Mick Gatto (noted conciliator in Melbourne).


  39. I generally watch Q and A on Tuesday evening as its on after 9pm. The token dummy normally gets the most air time.

  40. But sometimes they have two or three dummies.
    So then, which of them, pray tell, is “token”?

  41. Mr J

    There is a plague of “comedians” engaged in current affairs events programs on telly.

    Has been going on for some years in Oz. “The Drum”, “The Project”, “Q & A”, “Breakfast TV”, etc.

    [I didn’t mind it on that “Good News Week” quiz, billed as comedy.]

    What’s wrong with serious persons (experts and/or articulate, intelligent persons) discussing serious subjects? What’s wrong with detailed discussion, even if it’s lateish on a Monday night?

    Why “throw the switch to vaudeville”, as PJ Keating called it?
    Is the audience desperate for laughs?

    I think it’s lightweight and takes the audience for superficial fools.


    BTW Mr J, this wasn’t a deliberate thread-derailing exercise, OK? Just lamenting the state of current affairs events, on TV.

    author: The Canberra Affair, Mills & Boon, 2018; remaindered; available free with every copy of the Daily Torygraph

  42. Err, i was being Q and A specific but we can run though them all if you want on the SS.

    And your not being off topic in my eyes, the thread is based on biased media ” celebrity ” hype anyway.

  43. As I’ve said elsewhere, Joyce needs the money, and no-one within the National Party has the balls to unseat him. In the end Turnbull has no say in the matter, so they’ll carry on.

    What I’ve learnt that is new is that Ms Campion is officially on stress leave.

    On Turnbull’s bonk ban, Paula McDonald, Professor of Work and Organisation at the Queensland University of Technology takes a sensible look at the issue in Banning workplace romances won’t solve the problem of sexual misconduct in the office.

    Banning sexual relations may drive them underground rather than prevent them> She says:

    A common requirement in codes of employee conduct is for the person with the greater power to notify their supervisor of the relationship and immediately cease any decision-making role in respect of the subordinate. Such guidelines raise awareness of the potential for workplace relationships that may lead to later problems for those involved, and raise risks for organisational reputation and functioning.

    By providing a clear course of action, such codes of conduct also acknowledge that workplace relationships do occur.

    In contrast, outright bans on consensual sexual relationships at work are likely to be seen by many employees as over-reaching into their private lives. They may also perceive that it undermines their autonomy and dignity.

    Turnbull’s approach was ham-fisted. Unfortunately Shorten has said that Labor will not revisit the code if elected. Probably they want to spend their time on other matters. Also if they proposed a change, the narrow moralists would be out there saying that Labor wants the right to screw their staff.

  44. Joyce is gone. Interesting to see if the next leader will let Turnbull get on with the things he wants to do or insist that Turnbull has to live with “coal is good” and other Barnaby/Abbot nonsense.

  45. John

    Do you feel that Mr Joyce and Mr Abbott may team up as a ‘loyal opposition’ inside the Coalition govt.? Or are their egos too bloated?

    My impression is that they both despise the PM.

    Will the public ever be allowed to read the “Coalition Agreement”? Mr Joyce announced we had no right to do so, after Mr Turnbull’s ascent unto his rightful place in the Pantheon of modern Australia.


    (A Senior Strategist position in the Liberal Party}

    1.. Thoroughly committed to coalition-free Liberal Party government of Australia for evermore.

    2.. Not given to wild promises, such as, “We’ll have the Nationals smashed-and-broken within a fortnight”.

    3.. Completely free of any possibility of personal blackmail.

    4.. Highly developed ruthlessness: capable of blackmailing and/or threatening own grandmother on demand or as a demonstration of loyalty.

    5.. Has visited rural/regional/remote Australia at least once in HIS lifetime. (Note: overflying such place or places does not qualify; visit or visits must have been at ground level – duration of visit is not important).


    Bad Boy
    Senior adviser to the National Bonking Party.

    [Slogan: “party, party, party!!”]

    Potential applicants are advised to show due care, and avoid being crushed in the stampede. Any presented CV of an audiovisual nature must meet the morality standards of the Commonwealth Film and Television tribunal, and be classified For Parliamentary Eyes Only (or lower).

    The POSITION is, naturally, unpaid.

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