Barnaby Joyce, Vikki Campion and $150,000 worth of privacy

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Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons.

Barnaby Joyce sells the previously "private" story of his affair with Vikki Campion and the birth of their child for $150,000, continuing a long career of playing the media, says Noely Neate.

WHAT DO YOU GET when you cross a philandering, loud-mouthed retail politician with a former Daily Telegraph government spin doctor?

[Insert punchline of choice.] The editors at IA would never be able to publish my answer.

It appears ex-Deputy PM, ex-Nationals Leader and now backbencher with two families to support on his "measly" $200K salary, Member for New England Barnaby Joyce may be receiving $150K from Channel Seven for an "exclusive" interview.

I’ve always hated reality TV, but even I didn’t think the likes of Seven (who I personally hold responsible for inflicting the second coming of Senator Pauline Hanson upon the Australian public with their hate-click style promotion of her) would stoop this low. Let’s not even consider the morals of "paying" a sitting politician to give an interview — has that even ever happened before?

Then again, considering Nine’s 60 Minutes actually entered into a bidding war with Seven's Sunday Night for this so-called exclusive, you seriously have to wonder what this nation has become.

Joyce has always been able to play the media since he first became a Senator for Queensland. Even I admit when he first came on the scene, his less-than-smooth, calling a spade a spade manner of speech was refreshing. Though it didn’t take long to see his true colours. For mine, he well and truly proved how base his ambition was and how it was only ever about Joyce when he folded to former PM John Howard on the Telstra sale back in 2005. After, of course, jumping up and down about crossing the floor" to protect the poor people in the bush.

As a side note, Joyce’s I’m for the battlers in the bush bullshit, flogged by mainstream media, before he always concedes to the Government – after supposed "amendments", of course – is where Hanson learned her schtick — again, something the media keep falling for.

It is now 2018 and regional areas are still getting crappy telecommunications services; worse, for some strange reason, the media as a whole have totally forgotten all those promises and assurances that BJ supposedly got off the "sainted" Howard as to how we would not be left behind. In fact, every single time a Nationals pollie stands in front of a camera, sprouting about how fortunate we are he (it's normally always a "he") is fighting for us and look here, he got us some Mobile Black Spot funding, it's Woohoo! Rejoice! and let’s splash that on the front page of the local paper.

Obviously, there are many other examples of this retail politician being the best bloke around for the bush – just ask him – and yet, those "deals" and "promises" never seem to actually come to fruition. Worse, the mainstream media always seem to have the same amnesia.

Although, to be fair, New England seems to get more than its fair share of taxpayer largesse. And I’m not saying that figuratively. So I guess there is one regional Nationals area that has not been lied to.

My point is, Barnaby Joyce's whole career seems to have been about garnering media attention, yet, this same media never seems to hold him to account or revisit what he has said or promised. And I can’t fathom why. I would not be bitching about the backslapping stupidity of National MPs being lauded in the media for Mobile Black Spot funding in 2018 when, if they had held Joyce and the Nationals to account, we would not be needing it!

Joyce is not a sports star, nor a TV celebrity — you know, one of those people whom we seem to revere whether its warranted or not. He is not even an attractive bloke — sorry, but as much as I hate referring to "looks", pretty boys do seem to be preferred in television-land. So how has Joyce been so blessed with so much "free" publicity over the years?

This is what saddens me. Joyce and his new girlfriend, with baby Sebastian on lap, will do a lame interview with Seven. It will get audience ratings, pom-pom journos will feature it in the dailies the next day and some newspapers will probably plaster shots of the "happy family and their baby joy" over their front pages.

Natalie who? Oh, the old wife who gave up her career and aims in life to support her husband's career for decades and probably even entertained "that" staffer in her own home?

Girls? What girls? Oh, the four daughters from his marriage?

I wonder how they will feel.

This is another area of the media which puzzles me. I can only assume cheating on your partner is maybe an accepted thing in politics and the media as every statement made when Joyce’s philandering could no longer be hidden due to an ever-increasing baby bump always said something along the lines of: Our thoughts go out to “both” Natalie and the girls and Vikki at this difficult time.

As someone who has been cheated on in a marriage, in a situation where everyone seemed to know about it except me, to have concern expressed on an equal footing as the girlfriend on the side would have had me throwing very hard, large objects at the TV screen or burning those newspapers.

How can you equate decades of marriage, devotion to family and a partner's career and the devastation following such a public breakdown of that with getting a very new girlfriend pregnant and the inconvenience of the media spotlight on her? Call me old-fashioned but I find that beyond offensive.

Sadly, this is what we will likely see again with this Seven interview. Joyce will come across in a sympathetic light as there is no way in hell he would be doing an interview that did not massage his public profile. History will be rewritten and this will most likely be the first step in the rehabilitation of the Joyce "brand", returning him to the top of the heap and the Nationals leadership again — hopefully, after they spend at least one term of government in the wilderness.

To really rub salt into the wound, instead of paying for this sort of PR, Joyce and the new girlfriend will be picking up a sweet $150K.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Seven will actually ask him some hard questions, such as: how could FOI information on Vikki Campion’s travel records endanger life? Or, why was an expense probe shut down in March in this year? When did the affair start? Where is the proof Joyce didn’t breach Parliamentary standards, shuffling his girlfriend around in various Ministers' offices (under his control) to keep her employed? The questions Joyce has never answered in relation to potential breaches is long and varied.

I hope Joyce actually comes across as the self-interested, promise-the-world-but-deliver-nothing politician that he is and that he is shown to be no better than any other garden variety middle-aged man who trades in his wife for a new version just to satisfy his ego.

I doubt it, but I would be stoked to be wrong!

Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.

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