The Nationals' Barnaby problem

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If the Liberal Party has a woman problem, the Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment saga reveals the National Party to have a woman disaster. Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones and managing editor Dave Donovan report.

THE LIBERAL PARTY has a woman problem, so it is commonly said. Allegations of bullying by Dutton’s crew during the recent chaotic leadership spill has renewed calls for the Liberals to enforce quotas for female representation. This proposal looks like being declared dead on arrival, with it being fiercely resisted by the stale, pale men of the Party — and even many Liberal women, oddly enough.

Presently, there are 18 Liberal women in the Federal Parliament, or 22 per cent of the total. Clearly, this is not good enough.

But compared to its Coalition partners, the National Party, the Liberal Party appears to be a veritable paragon of equality.

Because, of the 22 Senate and House of Reps seats currently occupied by the National Party, a mere two are held by women.

That means the Nationals are more than a 90 per cent bloke party.

And as for the Liberal men bullying women, these allegations pale into insignificance when compared to the series of disturbing allegations against former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. These allegations go well beyond mere workplace bullying, into the realm of sexual harassment and even sexual assault.

Yes, series of allegations. Not just the single sexual harassment allegation you may have heard about on ABC 7.30 on Tuesday night (18 September) by brave Broome Councillor and former WA Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott. A series of credible allegations IA has been investigating, as you may have read in these pages from 19 November last year. Strangely, Marriott’s allegations have been scantly reported by the Australian mainstream media and this was the first time they have appeared on the ABC flagship current affairs program.

On Tuesday night (18 September) Marriott said that after an incident with Joyce, about which she refuses to discuss the precise details, she was scared to reveal the details. Marriott told interviewer Leigh Sales that one of her trusted friends urged her not to reveal anything publicly lest she be “destroyed”.

This concern appeared all too real and tallies with our investigation.

As you may recall, IA went to Tamworth nearly a year ago and at the time, concluded that our

‘… overwhelming feeling about Barnaby and the New England Nats is that there is a shroud of silence – about whatever is going on with Barnaby – being desperately held in place until [the New England by-election of] 2 December [2017]. At the moment, as far as they are concerned, that’s all that counts.’

We also noted:

‘… the Nationals run New England. If they don’t like you, that is the end of your career or business. Worse than the Masons.’

So it was no surprise to hear Catherine Marriot’s account of betrayal given to Leigh Sales.

Ms Marriott is too kind.

The Nationals blokes closed ranks around their boy and threw in a bit of victim shaming to boot.

These so-called men breached a specific request to keep the complainant’s name confidential and publicly outed her.

You can only guess spite drove this decision to tar Ms Marriott.

Barnaby has the view that, somehow, he is a victim in all this, that he has been denied natural justice.

It is difficult to see what possible advantage Catherine Marriott would have in making a false allegation against Joyce — a man with the power to make her life a misery. Taken in combination with the confession in his autobiography that he was abusing “alcohol” and “carousing” in Canberra bars as a result of his marriage breakup, Marriott’s allegations gain further credibility.

As Barnaby wrote in his book, published earlier this year:

‘Winston Churchill had his black dog: mine was a half-crazed cattle dog, biting everything that came near the yard.’

But still, Marriott’s complaints were dismissed by the National Party, claiming there was “insufficient evidence”.

Yet, taking into account the other credible sexual assault allegations made against Joyce, revealed by IA – none of which have ever surfaced in the mainstream media – the case for a serious investigation into Barnaby Joyce, by the police, gains weight.

What were the other allegations against Joyce?

In November last year, we investigated allegations that

‘Barnaby had, allegedly, molested a woman and/or women and, on one occasion, there were alleged witnesses.’

Our investigations revealed the following:

A male witness we did locate and speak with did not see any initiating activity, but he did, allegedly, see a young girl in obvious distress at a Canberra pub in 2011. Then he saw an older female allegedly confront Joyce about his actions regarding the girl. And then he allegedly saw Joyce brush this woman off with what he was convinced was a pinch on the backside.

After pub closing time, an allegedly inebriated Joyce, according to our witness, stood outside on the footpath in such a way the women felt intimidated and requested an escort to their cab.

We continued:

IA is aware of the identities of the women allegedly involved and has had oblique (texting via a third party) communication with them.

They most recently advised that there was ‘no point in pursuing it at this time’.

Sound familiar?

Note: Barnaby Joyce denies Catherine Marriot’s allegations. You can read his full statement following Tuesday night’s (18 September) ABC 7.30 report HERE.

This story was co-written by Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones and managing editor Dave Donovan. You can follow Ross and Dave on Twitter @rpzjones and @davrosz respectively. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

This is only half this story! The rest of this editorial was originally published in our weekly subscriber only newsletter and may be read in the IA members only area HERE

Access the members only area by subscribing to Independent Australia HERE.

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