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Barnaby Joyce, Sex and Finance

The insatiable appetite of Anglophone cultures for the prurient is of a different order to others. But it is an appetite tinged by horror, squeamishness and concern. Added to that such traditional markers, not to mention such markers as marriage, family and conservative values, and the whole thing becomes indigestible.

Australian politics is awash with only one story at the moment. There are no grand schemes and visions, only the prospect of whether the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce did wrong by his family in impregnating a political staffer. (That now former staffer, Vikki Campion, is afforded various names in the relationship argot: partner, girlfriend, assistant, bun-in-oven carrier).

The nature of this explosive interest, repeatedly advertised as a lack of interest (“we don’t have an interest in his private life”) has a tinny quality to it, largely given the general awareness amongst government members, staffers and the Canberra press gallery about Mr. Joyce’s extra-marital pursuits. The Daily Telegraph, needing copy to fill certain, generally vapid columns, decided to break the tacit consensus. Where there is sex, there is hypocrisy.

Any “sex scandal” immediately triggers a discussion about how the political figure operates in public, and the world of private endeavour. Aristotle famously suggested a division between political pursuit and household matters. The French continue to maintain a somewhat artificial distinction between the two, deeming the transgression of the personal as separate from the political. As with everything else, this is a matter of degree and weight. Privacy can be used as an unwarranted cover for abuse.

Parallels have bitten. The interminably present Michelle Grattan, who knows Canberra’s press gallery circles with a cloying intimacy, compares the Joyce-Campion affair with that of Jim Cairns’ and staffer Junie Morosi. The latter, taking place in the torrid years of the Whitlam government, was different, claims Grattan, because Morosi “was a political player, through her enormous influence on her boss.”

Of Joyce-Campion, Grattan offered a different reading. “No-one suggests Campion, who was deliberately transferred out of Joyce’s office nearly a year ago, was a political mover-and-shaker.” But Joyce had been, Grattan could sense with razor sharp intuition, “more distracted and difficult, though his citizenship imbroglio was a factor too.”

These observations are, at best, trite. The exertion of sexual influence can spill over into other realms. If you gaze long enough at the sexualised politician, the bed hopping political operator, you are bound to see sex and office converge, even conflate. Pillow talk is political talk; the affairs of the heart are also affairs of the next meeting, the next agenda, the next trip funded by the public purse. Bed rooms are places of breeding of all sorts, conspiracies included. The hatchet man or woman, keen to find a story on the linking the two spheres of public office and private endeavour, is bound to find a link, however forced.

The focus of these revelations has shifted from the softly-softly dimension (respect for privacy; observance for boundaries) to hard political realities, notably those centred on finance. The sexual, in other words, is becoming political. Money is starting to talk.

This transformation is an example of political anthropology in action. Limits are being tested, and these are dangerous to the political parties concerned. It should be axiomatic that affairs between staffer and politician, often of the extra-marital sort, find form in a distant capital, away from family and domestic comfort. Animal behaviour, and needs, press on relentlessly, a rage that requires satiation. Ultimately, Joyce’s profile counts, soaring, albeit laboriously, over others.

The Nationals feel that their primary retail product in politics, one seemingly indestructible (Teflon coated against the gaffe; immune to punishment for such slips ups as his dual citizenship) has been soiled. The Australian Labor Party smell the prospect of impropriety in terms of finances. After all, the Australian Prime Minister keeps insisting on “jobs growth”, and Joyce may well have taken this to heart in encouraging colleagues to form a position (or positions) specifically for the future mother of his child. These include one in the office of Resource Minister Matt Canavan and subsequent to that, the Nationals whip Damian Drum.

Deputy Labor leader, Tanya Plibersek, flagged something of a blueprint for what is to come to the ABC on Sunday. “I don’t think [Joyce] needs to account for his personal behaviour, his relationships, to the public.”  But “the area of the expenditure of taxpayers’ funds” was a matter of “genuine public interest”, namely, whether jobs were specifically created for Campion, or whether there had been “the expenditure of taxpayer funds on travel.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, whose portfolio oversees the employment of political staff, is clearly asking everyone else to move on – there is nothing to see on that score. Campion “is clearly somebody who is qualified to do the job and she was hired in certain positions based on merit and there’s nothing really further to add.”

The question on all lips, from press gallery hacks to the morally indignant, is whether Joyce will survive. Crystal ball gazer and political tea leaf reader Niki Savva feels that the coffin is being readied for Joyce’s political career. On the ABC’s Insiders program, Savva unequivocally claimed that “his career is over. Maybe not in the short term but certainly in the medium term.” That, ultimately, will be a matter for the political apparatchiks who are now pouring over the squalid details.


  1. New England Cocky

    The RAbbott Morriscum Dumbo Turdball LNP misgovernment is in crisis mode covering up the improprieties of Barnyard Joke and his pregnant paramour. Never let it be said that this present generation of representatives of the Notional Party you have to represent foreign owned multinational mining corporations ever had any intent of serving the people, rather preferring to serve their own personal agendas at every possible expense to the long-suffering Australian taxpayer. Remember former Notional “leaders” Mark Vaille, John Anderson retired from politics into the mining sector at a great increase in remuneration. Doubtless, Auntie Gina will find a place in her empire for Barnyard and his PR paramour that at least will not continue to cost taxpayers apart for the retired politicians pension that correctly should be withheld as Joke was sitting in Parliament contrary to the s44 of the Constitution.

    it is time for Dumbo to strike out against Turdball who, if he has any testicles will immediately call a House of Reps election when the doubly disillusioned Australian voters may dispatch this moribund lot of self-serving egomaniacs to the WPB of political history.

  2. diannaart

    Love your opening paragraph, Binoy.

    Excellent point regarding Michelle Gratton – very trite indeed from, supposedly one of the top political journalists in this country. While I agree with her conclusion – is that all the insight she had to offer? OK Maybe I should go verify with Google… maybe later, I’ll take Binoy’s word – for now.


  3. Kaye Lee

    A spokesman for Mr Turnbull dismissed claims of anything wrongdoing, saying “the Deputy Prime Minister did not breach the ministerial code of conduct because Ms Campion was not his partner at the time of the staff appointments.”

    The spokesman also said “the Prime Minister was not aware of the relationship” at the time of the appointments to the offices of Senator Canavan and Mr Drum.

    Now that’s strange because earlier reports said that Barnaby’s chief of staff Di Hallam made Barnaby go and tell the PM about the affair when she moved Campion in April. Someone’s telling fibs.

  4. ozibody

    Thank you Binoy for a well structured and interesting article.

    Kaye Lee …. I’m willing to bet that the P.M. will hair split about the matter of Ms. Campion’s employment moves He will claim that Barnaby simply placed her in the ‘ stray on the side ‘ category on that occasion….the partner qualification will only emerge ‘ later ‘ in the time frame – after the re-employments. … ( of course the wording may be a little more ‘cultured’ !) .

  5. Pappinbarra Fox

    Kaye. That is the most transparent coverup ever. No one will believe a word. It is the cover up that always brings them undone

  6. Vikingduk

    Obviously time to throw a dead cat on the table. No doubt the LNP sewer dwellers are busily digging the dirt to out Labor, or a fucking gigantic terrorism threat, or that bill shorten is really a great white shark marauding and lurking off the coast ready to pounce on those unsuspecting mum & dad investors, or that Tanya is an hermaphrodite in a three way with t. Burke, trust us we all God fearing catlic Christians here us LNP zealots, we tell only the truth and nothing but even though baarnaby is a piss head and a fucking moron he is one of us narcissistic lying fucking hypocrites evil at heart evil in mind a collective of slime sucking shit stains of democracy born to rule no matter what repulsive rupert loves us so we do no wrong we lie at will and anyone else we tell what’s fake trust us we guarantee to fuck you up fuck your life and fuck the horse you rode on.

    Dead cat time, what will it be?

  7. helvityni

    …and if that dead cat bounces a bit after the fall, it is still a DEAD cat….

  8. Aortic

    You can take the boy out of the bush.

  9. paul walter

    Just reading in the Guardian, Amy Remeikis reports that Human Sevices (?) Minister Keenan just got a question, they had the HIDE to ask this on today of all days, ” people not keeping Centrelink up to date with their relationship changes”.

    Keenan: “If you are doing the wrong thing, if you are defrauding the taxpayer, we will find you out and you will face the consequences of your actions”.

    This after them ruling a huge salary infringement, a job for a favourite created, re Campion arranged by Turnbull behind closed doors.

    But THAT is not an infringement because Campion is not Joyce’s partner.

    Let me guess, she has been just filling in for Joyce’s wife when she’s not there when it comes to marital duties.

    But WHO is pregnant here..doh!

  10. king1394

    Among other aspects of this sordid affair that I have not (yet) seen discussed is the question of did Joyce leave himself open to accusations of sexual harassment, or worse. Why did he feel the need to ‘pay off’ this lady to such an extent?

  11. Vikingduk

    Has gina the rindheart reached out to dear baarnaby yet come hither dear baarnaby forget the slings and arrows forget the misses and the kids you got a new heifer to breed the Joyce line a boy it is big money waiting dear baarnaby join our Sophie let us rule the world together. Or better yet keep this disgusting toad in the job there’s coal to be mined a climate to be ruined lies to tell shit to fling keep the fucking snout in the trough pell guaranteed to absolve your sins only being a good catlic eh baarnaby go forth sow them wild oats and continue to rot what passes for your mind with the booze you drink all those women waiting to be pawed and assaulted by you the ruptured tomato the lecher you fine upstanding deputy prime monster.

  12. Matters Not

    Re Di Hallam – she is flying under the radar – at least for the moment. But if the spotlight turns to sinecures, things may change. One assumes proper procedures were followed and it was a genuine merit selection and not a payoff.

    One hopes someone’s doing the digging and prepared to follow through.

    Re the coming child. Perhaps it was an Immaculate Conception to be followed by a Virgin Birth. Remember Barnaby was educated by the Jesuits and might see himself as the modern day Joseph and Vikki as the Mary equivalent. As I understand it, they are already in search of a suitable manger – somewhere on the outskirts of Tamworth. It will make a great tourist attraction in future years – an optional extra to the Country and Western …

  13. Kronomex

    I think we can all agree that the Abbott/Turnbull years will cement themselves in the history books as the most corrupt (politically and otherwise), rabid right wing, religious nut jobs, weak, non-existent leadership, vicious, petty, and fascist style governments we have seen up to date. Feel free to add more descriptive words that I have no doubt missed. It’s going to take years to get over the destruction and mayhem the LNP has caused.

  14. Meg

    I can’t say I’m surprised – there were lots of rumours about Barnyard leading up to the by-election… but these bigoted bumpkins still voted for him. I’m disappointed in Malcolm – he was so self-assured and suave on Q&A while we all suffered under Abbott – and now Malcolm himself is embroiled in this scandal. I think we will be in election mode very soon… we will know in a few weeks. Barnyard might have a stroke or heart attack and it will be on. My biggest fear is a scare campaign that Bill and Tanya will open our borders again – it’s what compassionate people like us want.

  15. paul walter

    Thank you Matters Not.

    We are not talking of a fourteen year old virgin here. Barnaby may be an animal, but how is this 33 yo married journalist wallflower strangely pregnant five months? Was this so called pregnancy to do with leverage of another sort?

    What gives?

    How much longer must the taxpayer fork out for these idiot, vile people?

  16. Matters Not

    paul walter, Vikki is pregnant because she wanted and chose to be pregnant and remain in that condition. Of that we can be sure.

    As you say, she is not a child. Immaturity resides with Barnaby.

  17. paul walter

    That’s right, John Fraser.

  18. Glenn Barry

    Well I’ll tender one suggestion as to the appropriate classification of Vikki Campion – womb for rent. Clearly Joyce wasn’t keen to acknowledge her as a partner, not even concubine, so I guess surrogacy is where it’s at.

    I got scorn for making a similar comment elsewhere, however my comment was not against Vikki Campion, though some prescription glasses may be required in her case, but against Joyce’s complete lack of respect for women.

    He has completely betrayed his wife and daughters, then to add insult to injury gets Vikki several positions, unavailable to a spouse or partners because of issues surrounding ministerial conduct and nepotism. It was for the money.

    Nowhere in any of this can I see anything except Barnaby’s brazen self interest.

    The man is an absolute paragon of selfishness

  19. paul walter

    Surrogacy raises yet another issue. Were procedures paid for privately or on national health or at taxpayers expense?

    If surrogacy is involved, is the test tube responsible being investigated?

    MN, my question would obviously apply to liabilities passed on to taxpayers. I don’t care if Campion wants a baby, but not at my expense, when the kid’s father is a suspiciously wealthy man The public is not here to pay for Barnababy’s obligations, or Vikki’s and it is hardly the mark of a “mature” person to expect otherwise.

  20. Kaye Lee

    Glenn, I agree. How would his new partner have felt hearing Barnaby saying on tv “I’ll say up-front that one of the greatest failures in my life was the end of my marriage” and “it’s a private matter and I don’t think it helps me. I don’t think it helps my family.”

    Not to mention “I can’t quite fathom why, basically, a pregnant lady walking across the road deserves a front page. I don’t know what the political purpose is to that.”

    Speaking as a woman, if I was his ex, his kid, or his current – that would have pissed me off. No-one is important except Barnaby. No apologies to past family, no support for future family – a complete PR exercise that went horribly wrong.

    Barnaby is….inadequate.

  21. paul walter

    Kaye Lee is correct on all counts.

    Somehow, somewhere, in some way, Barnaby Joyce has got himself in way out of his depth and the wheels are falling off simultaneously..

  22. New England Cocky

    @paul walter … This looks like a well thought out plot by concubine Campion wants to tap into the wealth created by Barnyard rorting the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme.

    @John Fraser … thank you for the excellent link. Everybody should take the time to discover the background of the Concubine.

    Michelle Gratton has proven to be a vitriolic apologist for the sins of the LNP. Just read some of the unmitigated tripe that she penned on “:The Conversation” during the last ALP government.

  23. Möbius Ecko

    New England Cocky, not his rorting of allowances, that’s small bikkies really. The big money Joyce is heading towards by using his influence in government are from two sources. Rail going through marginal farmland he has purchased and Gina Rinehart.

    Campion has inside knowledge of especially the former, and I believe is friends with the Joyce ex-staffer who just so happens to now be in a senior position for implementing the rail and its route. Why this aspect of Joyce’s corruption is not being looked at by the MSM has me pondering, as it’s so blatant.

  24. Karl

    People should always be reminded when you are friends with a partnered friend on Facebook or elsewhere especially Facebook.your views and writings could be shared with more than one rePillow Talk.

  25. diannaart

    Right, it’s all Campion’s fault for getting pregnant, she must’ve sat in Barnie’s chair by mistake.

    Or, perhaps, Campion was stupid enough to trust Joyce with a condom as well.

    of course we are still living in the 1950’s.

  26. Jaquix

    Turnbull definitely playing with words, Kaye Lee, because I too twigged about the story of Di Hallam (friend of Natalie Joyces) insisting that Barnaby go to Turnbull and confess. That must have been about March/April 2017, just before Ms Campion was moved out of Barnabys office because it was causing trouble there, and started at Canavans office.
    The affair itself can probably be dated right back to June 2016, when that selfie was taken (with the taker cropped out and copied from his Facebook page and used by the Daily Telegraph with his permission). And during the 2016 election campaign. She broke off her engagement to John Bergin in August 2016. Joining the dots, we can see the probably reason why. The word is that “everybody knew”. How Turnbull managed not to hear about it from that time until April 2017 remains to be seen. Heard Scott Morrison say “you cant have 2 partners”. Really? What I object to is that BJ has deceived his wife, his daughters, his party and the public of Australia, for about 18 months, during which time he held himself out to be a conservative upholding family values. That is unforgiveable.

  27. Roswell

    So then … Barnaby’s apologised so everything’s OK now. From this point on the media will be telling us what a great fighter he is after this harrowing test to his character. And Malcolm Turnbull will continue to brush it away so that before long it’s all forgotten.

    Then the government and the media can go back to blaming Labor for something.

    Order will be restored.

  28. Roswell

    I noticed that article too, Paul.

    All I can say is they better be right, or they’ll be receiving a letter from someone’s solicitor.

    Personally, I hope they are right. I’d like to see the end of Barnaby. In my view the man’s not fit to sit in Parliament.

  29. diannaart

    Roswell & Paul

    I happened across the article also.

    Like, Paul, I thought the blogsite name a bit dodgy, also if I recall correctly, the article dated from 2016 – if there was going to be any litigation against Joyce, surely would’ve happened by now?

    Joyce is demonstrably so dubious in how he performs politically (as opposed to privately) he needs to be removed from office – the sooner the better.

  30. helvityni


    “And Malcolm Turnbull will continue to brush it away so that before long it’s all forgotten.”

    Mal and his pals did not let go of harassing Shorten, he had to let go of Dastyari whose misdemeanours were no match to their own side’s low morals, lying and scheming…

  31. paul walter

    Given the 4 Corners program this week about the slave like conditions endured by embassy workers in Canberra and the attitude of the government toward workers in general, I am entitled to wonder at how easily politicians would send stressed out sex workers to experience the maulings of foreign diplomats and business people.

    I think of Julie Bishop, eager to send Mojgan Shamshalipoor back to her rapists in Iran, let alone the brutal inanities of the asylum seeker detention system and find the article more and more plausible.

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