Deputy Prime Minister Joyce (left) and Prime Minister Turnbull at the New England by-election, December 2017 (screen shot via @9NewsSyd).

If a thorough investigation into the potential abuse of power and misuse of public funds in the Barnaby Joyce affair isn't undertaken, then both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister should resign, says John Passant.

I DO NOT CARE about with whom Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been having sex.

I do care, however, if he has been dishonest, or if there has been an abuse of power or misuse of public funds.

So far, four important and as yet unanswered questions have arisen:

  1. Has there been an abuse of power — for example in the fact Joyce’s mistress, Vikki Campion, was a staff member in his office?
  2. Has there been a misuse of public funds — for example, by travelling away together for work but in reality to spend quality time with each other?
  3. What were the expectations, if any, associated with Joyce receiving free accommodation for six months for himself and Campion from a local and influential businessman?
  4. Has the Deputy Prime Minister been deceiving the public to cover up the above three points?

There needs to be a thorough independent investigation into the arrangements he and others made for Campion. That investigation should be wide enough to look into Malcolm Turnbull’s actions in supporting Joyce by, according to media reports, finding alternative "jobs" for Campion on two occasions when it became clear her presence was disrupting the Deputy Prime Minister’s office. A Government office job that appears out of nowhere to employ the mistress of the Deputy Prime Minister raises some suspicions — at least to me.

This is a trainwreck in slow motion. Former Member for Tamworth and Joyce's political opponent in New England, Tony Windsor, has suggested there is much worse to come. As the drip feed of information becomes a torrent, this intrigue may destroy the Turnbull Government. That is what the Government fears, hence their silence for the last six months. That fear explains why there will be no Government-initiated investigation. Perhaps the Senate will set up an independent inquiry.

If a thorough investigation does not happen, then both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister should resign for potential abuse of power, potential misuse of public funds and potential covering up of the truth. This stinks so much it is time for the government to disinfect the rotting corpse in public.

The silence over the last six months also suggests a cover-up and if so, it goes well beyond the Turnbull Government. Many in the mainstream media look as if they may have been part of the cover-up of the rotten circumstances surrounding Barnabygate. They have been running a protection racket for the Turnbull Government.

The mainstream media did not tell voters before the New England by-election that Joyce, a defender of traditional marriage, who put the relationships of all LGBTIQ people up for public scrutiny, was having an affair with a staff member and that she was pregnant.

They refused to investigate Campion’s seemingly forced move from Joyce’s office to Senator Matt Canavan’s, apparently without a selection process taking place, for a position that did not previously exist. They did not investigate the gift of a rent-free place that Joyce and Campion live in courtesy of a local very wealthy businessman with an interesting history — although that may have occurred after the by-election. So investigate it now. They did not investigate the possibility that Turnbull intervened to shift Campion into the new $191,000 a year job with Canavan. They did not investigate if the job she went into, after that, in the office of Nationals Chief Whip Damian Drum, was similarly created. 

Many other questions remain unanswered. For example, why was competent Minister Darren Chester dumped from Cabinet? Is Barnaby sometimes drunk at work? Has Joyce ever sexually harassed women in his workplace or elsewhere? Investigative journalists, where are you?

Until a week ago, we had nothing but silence from the mainstream media. It might be reasonable to conclude they are self-censoring to pander to an incompetent and reactionary Government. As the unfolding Barnabygate shows, the mainstream media has ignored stories that might undermine Turnbull and his merry crew.

Compare the silence on Joyce to the cacophony around former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her sex life, childbearing potential and other matters.

Watch the following video to see the incredible amount of bullying of Julia Gillard by the patriarchy:

Today women make up 46% of the workforce, more often in part-time employment, casual work and lower paid jobs than men. But the workplace hasn’t thrown off the oppression of women. Rather it reflects and reinforces it. This makes younger and more junior female staff, in particular, vulnerable to sexual abuse, an abuse of power, by older, more senior, male staff.

Many workplaces have strict codes of conduct to attempt to address this power imbalance and protect women workers. For example, two senior Australian Football League men were sacked or resigned after news of their consensual affairs with younger female employees became public.

Federal Parliament has no such code of conduct. The Prime Minister has dismissed the call by Independent Cathy McGowan to ban sexual relations between politicians and staff. A code of conduct might not only protect some women in politicians’ offices, it would also expose the abusers currently sitting in Parliament with the political ramifications that hold. I guess that is why Turnbull hasn’t announced a code of conduct.

It is time for an independent body to take seriously all allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Federal Parliament. My hope is that women workers and their unions combine to begin a #MeToo campaign to clean out the patriarchal Parliamentary predators and rock the very foundations of our democracy.

My suggestions go further. Maybe it is time for all parties to select women as candidates unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The media silence on the stinking pit of potential corruption and hypocrisy surrounding Barnaby’s love nest was only challenged in the run-up to the 2 December New England by-election by independent media, including IA. This appears to be where the future of real journalism lies if we can get more funding.

The ABC has proven how gutless it is by returning cabinet documents it obtained "off the back of a truck", without so far publishing any more than a few stories. Even then, it got the one on former PM Kevin Rudd wrong and, after he launched defamation action, the ABC apologised.

Defamation actions can be a silencer too. The far right’s attack dog, Senator Jim Molan, silenced Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt when he threatened to sue for comments Bandt made about the Iraq war and Molan’s role in that disaster. I look forward to a serious journalist doing the legwork to get to the bottom of the story about Fallujah and the invasion that was based on blatant lies. I won’t hold my breath.

We live in a society that is silencing dissent and difference in more and more ways. Apart from the examples above, there is legislation being proposed that would gaol journalists for doing their job of exposing the government and its workings. There is further legislation introduced that effectively tries to gag the likes of GetUp!. On top of all that, the Australian Building and Construction Commission has banned the Eureka Stockade union symbol on building sites.

Turnbull et al are attacking free speech and failing to investigate potential corruption, nepotism and sexual harassment. In this, the mainstream media has proven itself to be the Government’s accomplices. 

Let’s hope that when Shorten Labor gets elected, their Federal ICAC will have sufficient power to investigate situations like "Barnabygate". A more powerful instrument would be a union-run "Me Too" campaign to expose the serial sexual harassers in Parliament and consign them to the dustbin of history.

The fight for transparency, free speech, anti-corruption and a safer workplace for women would be greatly advanced if Turnbull and Joyce were to resign for their actions and inaction in Barnabygate. Let’s keep the pressure on them.

Read more by John Passant on his website En Passant or follow him on Twitter @JohnPassantSigned copies of John's first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed (Ginninderra Press 2016), are available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

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