As we all know, Federal politicians spend nearly half their lives away from home. It can be a lonely life, we know that too. But should we cut them any slack because of it?
No, we should not. That’s a price they pay, and they know that going in. As the saying goes, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ A politician is a unique animal; self-obsessed, feisty, argumentative, prone to excessive exaggeration, ruthless and open to outright dishonesty.
They are mostly university trained where they get a grounding in the fundamentals of politics through a variety of campus clubs. They can come from the faculties of medicine or law, history or teaching, agriculture or science, anywhere really, and all of them mask their deeper ambitions with what we call, ‘a willingness to serve the public.’
So, it’s safe to say they are not illiterate. It’s safe to say they have some intelligence and have experience in something that could, at a stretch, be considered a qualification for public life. It’s also safe to say that somewhere along the public pathway, they fall into the deep, deep pit of hypocrisy.
Sooner or later, they will go on the public record as being for, or opposed, to something only to be found wanting, either professionally or privately. In this context, Barnaby Joyce’s light shines brightly.
His relationship with his staffer was no secret, at least not on social media, where it has been the subject of discussion, comment and innuendo for months and, on its own, is none of our business.
But when it spills over, into the very public arena, via stories concerning rent-free housing courtesy of a friend, back-room job creation efforts by party colleagues, that may, or may not, have required the approval of the prime minister, or suspected inappropriate use of travel entitlements, then it becomes our business.
Just ask Sam Dastyari, just ask Peter Slipper, just ask Julia Gillard.
Which brings us to the question: given the conduct of the member for New England in matters related to public purpose, does Barnaby Joyce have a future in politics?
On Insiders, this morning, panellist, Niki Savva was pretty savage.
He did not, and in her opinion, would not be leading the National party to the next election. That was a bit of a bombshell coming from a conservative journalist who, we might have thought, would have leapt to his defence.
On the previous Sunday, Insiders was all about Bill Shorten’s perceived problems, none of which were discussed today, probably none of which anyone can remember. A week is a long time in politics. Who knows what will be revealed this week?