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Bonking, nepotism and the trials of being a politician away from home

Whilst Barnaby Joyce may consider his workplace sexual affairs a private matter, they give rise to many questions.

Cathy McGowan is considering introducing a motion to ban politicians from having sex with their staff. Do they really need legislation to tell them that the boss rooting their staff is inappropriate?

Have they not learned from the resignation of two AFL bosses and the two top guys in Border Force (though Roman is just on a paid holiday to date)?

Did Tony Abbott’s ban on politicians hiring family extend to the person you are having sex with?

As Ted Mack pointed out in his 2013 Henry Parkes oration:

Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

But it’s not just a political class – it’s blatant nepotism.

In a January 2014 article on Abbott’s ban and how former Coalition MP for Fairfax, Alex Somlyay, allegedly paid his wife almost seventy thousand dollars for the year 2012-13 “for non-existent work in his electorate office,” Jonathon Swan pointed out how common the practice is.

What about Kevin Rudd? Didn’t he employ his son Nicholas as a ”senior adviser” during the election campaign? Well, as it happens, he did. And what about Chris Hayes, Dick Adams, Glenn Sterle, Chris Back, Ian Macdonald and Rowan Ramsey? Haven’t all of these current and former MPs from Labor and the Coalition hired their wives or partners on the public dime?

What about Liberal MP Dennis Jensen (daughter), Liberal Don Randall (daughter), former Labor senator Trish Crossin (daughter), Labor senator Helen Polley (daughter and niece), Labor MP Michael Danby (son), Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker (son), Liberal MP Steve Irons (son), Nationals George Christensen (sister) and Liberal Bob Baldwin (daughter)?

And that’s before one gets to nepotism-once-removed.

A phone call to Senator Farrell elicited a history of employment that included Mrs Farrell not only working for Labor MP Champion but previously for Labor politicians Bob Catley, Michael Atkinson, Annette Hurley and Linda Kirk. All except Catley were affiliated with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association – a trade union of which Senator Farrell is a former national president.

Awkwardly, the man charged with policing Abbott’s new rules banning nepotism – Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson – has been rather nepotistic himself.

”I don’t think it’s any secret I employed my son,” Ronaldson said.

This practice of employing family members (or people you are rooting) makes the political class even more insular. It can lead to the perception of corruption even if the reality is otherwise. Your partner or child may very well be eminently qualified, talented and trustworthy, but so are many other people.

Getting back to the philandering, Bob Katter appeared on the Project this evening to express his support for Cathy McGowan’s ban on bonking but, when asked about how it could be policed, he just started giggling and said “you can’t”, before offering the advice that people “should lock the door.”

When asked if there were others misbehaving, he said “Yes, the boys like to have a bit of fun. So do the girls.”

He then went all serious, as he does, and explained how hard it was to work 22 weeks of the year (in stints of 2 four day weeks at a time with free flights home for the long weekends and paid “family reunions” anywhere in the country if you can’t last). It’s hard to resist temptation, Bob tells us.

In 2015, Bob Katter showed up to Parliament on 52 days. In 2014 he attended 65 out of 76 sitting days.

If it is understandable, and excusable, for everyone who spends four days in a row away from home to commit adultery, then we may as well abolish marriage altogether.


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  1. diannaart

    One of my personal peeves with nepotism, is having to work, speak and generally behave a little less relaxed around the bosses son/daughter/wife/husband/cousin/sister/brother/neighbour/in-laws/boss’s pet… than one does with peers/colleagues. And don’t EVER go to the pub after work with any of the boss’s appointed lackeys.

    How such nepotism works (or, more likely doesn’t work) in the rarefied atmosphere of state and federal politics or in the higher realms of any organisation, is the stuff of nightmares for people who just want to do their job, do it well and go home.

    Rather than a no bonking rule, how about a no relatives and other assorted sycophants ruling?

  2. Christopher

    Thank you Kaye for keeping the sunlight on these cs. Problem is my mates down the pub aren’t interested and these are the ones who get their news from MMM.

    I’ve tried to educate them on how the world works, but my truth telling gets the same sort of reaction as a conspiracy theorist. I’ll keep trying. Some of my social media ‘friends’ get it

  3. MikeW

    And this lot are supposed be running the country, whether it be labor or liberal. What a bunch of grubs. Thanks again Kaye lee for your informative and well researched articles.
    Imagine if voting was non compulsory, I for one would not even bother, especially the way politics are going in Australia at the moment.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Mike, choosing not to vote would mean that all my work over the years , and that of many others, would have been for nothing. I know it seems pointless but, quite the contrary, it is really important that we inform ourselves, and as many others as we can, of the truth. The more people who actually know what is going on and vote accordingly, the more hope we have to force the parties to preselect the right people and do the right thing. Or even inspire some decent independents to stand up.

    individually, we are drops in the ocean, Together, we are a tsunami.

  5. Matters Not


    Imagine if voting was non compulsory

    Effectively, that’s how so many proceed, particularly the young who either don’t enrol or don’t bother to vote when it really matters. The LNP would sell their soul to remove compulsory voting. That such a proposition resonates with so many is lamentable.

    And we worry about the ‘basics’ – like the ability to …. spell. Hilarious!

  6. Matters Not


    Your partner or child may very well be eminently qualified, talented and trustworthy, but so are many other people.

    Focussing on the trustworthy bit. Politically, that’s much more important than most people think or appreciate. As any (current or retired) Labor Minister will admit, one’s real political enemies sit – not across the aisle – but beside and behind you. Waiting. Just waiting. Never letting a chance go by.

    Family members are perhaps more trustworthy.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Voting is the one time when my power is greater than Rupert Murdoch’s. He can say whatever he wants and print whatever he wants, but he can’t vote and he can’t make me do what he wants 🙂

    Yes MN, I can understand that argument….funny to be making it considering Barnaby’s predicament but I get your drift.

    My suggestion would be to get rid of staffers. Have one office manager, use the typing pool, and take your advice from the public service and independent experts.

  8. Matters Not

    KL re:

    take your advice from the public service and independent experts.

    Would such advice relate also to a Minister’s factional location? You know – that which delivered the Ministry? And ensured he/she keeps same. Or maybe elevates further?

    And I thought we wanted a non-political public service. Good luck with that. lol.

    Fact is, the role of Ministers is many and varied but the ‘basics’ are fundamentally about politically survival and not policy or administrative decision making. They are neither necessary nor sufficient.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Would a non-factional parliament be too much to ask for. Yanno. one that identified the problems facing us, sought advice on various approaches, and then debated the pros and cons of each before coming to informed consensus about the best way forward

    I know I know….

    You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one

  10. Joseph Carli

    ” Would a non-factional parliament be too much to ask for.”….To have a non-factional parliament would mean to have a classless society…because as soon as one section finds it can ease the burden of labour off its own shoulder by placing it upon anothers, you have factions.

    Marx 101 : “Given that the cost of mining or obtaining raw materials may be of equal expense, as is transport /fuel, energy and distribution…the only cost that can be manipulated to produce profit-margin is the price of labour”.

    And there…is suddenly, your faction.

  11. wam

    We are rich, fat and even those we consider poor have people worse off!!!! So why give a damn about voting??

    ‘Geoffrey Ash, husband of Senator and former NSW MLC Lee Rhiannon bailed-out the NSW Greens in 1995, writing-off a $12,690 election debt.Ms. Rhiannon pays tribute to him in her 1999 maiden speech: (vex???)

    In 2010, Tanner, a gutless labor politician believed the polls and quit. The recipient of this retreat, Victorian MP Adam Brandt gave his girlfriend, now wife?? a job.

    tony burke is true to the political image of Australians:

    ‘LABOR frontbencher Tony Burke has slugged taxpayers close to 2.2 million for travel costs, including charter planes and flying on VIP jets. … Comcar fare, which he had used to take him to a Robbie Williams concert, and admitted he flew his family business class to Uluru during the 2012 school holidays, …”

    Burke would have to be silent on joyce with ‘Italy and Spain were the favoured destinations of Tony Burke when he embarked on a ministerial travel extravaganza that included first-class flights with senior staffer Skye Laris, who is now his partner. …'(plus Uluru??)

    In answer to cathy’s call I wrote, on the SBS Facebook page.
    ‘by all laws of common decency it is banned’. surprise surprise it got one like but it was SBS so ‘Barnaby, if you don’t want your salami sliced you should have kept it in your pants.’ only got 162

    ps if the pollies had to publish their diaries at the end of the month. The chances of re-election would have some evidence? The charges of over work would have some evidence? The claims of family deprivation would have some evidence? The perception of corruption would have some evidence? The sex trips would be exposed?

  12. Graeme Henchel

    Beernaby Joke likes a stray poke
    He lies and he steals and he cheats
    Beernaby Joke is not a smart bloke
    But he still fools those New England folk

  13. John Fraser

    Here’s where to find Barney’s Register of Members Interests 15th January 2018 :

    Plenty of boxes where “Spouse” have been marked “Separated”.

    But no mention of Barnaby’s “paramour”.

    Is this a loophole that could allow an M.P. to hide assets or gifts ?

    Is this a legal document ?

    Is Barney guilty of an oversight ?

  14. Matters Not

    John Fraser re your link to Barnaby’s register of interests. The document is signed off by Jake Smith as the apparent Chief of Staff on 3/1/18. Smith’s been around politics for a long time. When Springborg, as State Opposition Leader, went to Canada and developed the idea of amalgamating the Liberals and Nationals to form the LNP in Queensland he was accompanied by Jake Smith and Greg Jackson as his Press Secretary. Jackson frequently asserted that Smith was a political genius. But that didn’t help Springborg. Now, apparently he’s with Barnaby

    Most media reports have Di Hallam as the Minister’s highly respected chief of staff, yet Jake Smith claims that title on the most recent documentation presented. Has Hallam been thrown under a bus as well – as payback for moving Vikki on? Where is she now? Been moved on as well? Has anyone attempted to interview her? (Not that she would talk, I suspect.) But that refusal might be interesting. If she has been moved on, then she would be harbouring some resentments and she is a potential leaker of some power.

    Anyone know?

  15. Kaye Lee

    MN, there is a paywalled article in the Australian but the google blurb says this….

    Nothing inappropriate about Barnaby’s spending during affair: PM…joyce/…/67a660d0f3014b8010c1c8026926d880
    1 day ago – Malcolm Turnbull is not aware of any public money being spent inappropriately to manage Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with former staff member Vikki … this morning Mr Joyce’s affair created dysfunction in his office and lead to the exit of Ms Campion and Mr Joyce’s former chief of staff Diana Hallam.

  16. Matters Not

    So it led to her exit as well. Thanks for that. To where? She left a good job to take on Barnaby’s gig in the first place. Replaced Canavan I think. She would not be happy.

    Perhaps Malcolm has looked after her as well?

    One wonders how many of the ‘unemployed’ are still on the payroll.

  17. Kaye Lee

    I hate speculation but there has been talk that Campion wasn’t Barnaby’s first office affair.

  18. Matters Not

    It appears that she was well looked after. Now effectively silenced. Bought off.

    Selection on merit no doubt for a job that was created especially for her. Luck, lucky Di. Well qualified for this job no doubt. Shakes head.

  19. Kaye Lee

    June 2013…..

    A talented rodeo contestant, Di Hallam started with the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association “for six weeks as a lead-up to their National Finals Rodeo when Telstra came on board as major sponsor”.

    “From there I just stayed on doing sponsorship and marketing,” she said.

    “Then I did accounts and became the office manager. That changed to acting executive officer and then general manager.”

    She’s been the ABCRA GM for some three years and leaves for a far different sporting organisation where youth and the development of young careers, on and off the sporting field, are the focal points, becoming the newest executive officer of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport

    She was a “Tamworth local”. How she got from there into Barnaby’s office as his chief of staff, I can’t say.

  20. Matters Not

    Yes KL, I read that Press Release as well. Apparently she’s well versed in bucking and rough riding. Now she’s an expert on the coming iron horse.

    What I haven’t found yet is an organisational structure for her new job. Her new ministerial boss is her old ministerial boss. He can keep an eye on her.

    Probably knows Natalie Joyce rather well. Maybe this will turn out to be a modern day Peyton Place.

  21. Kaye Lee

    Interestingly, AIMN contributor Kyran O’Dwyer pointed this out in November last year…..

    “Let’s go back to the Dummy extraordinaire, Joyce. He not only forgot his father was a Kiwi, he actually destroyed the APVMA, diverted water from the Murray Darling scheme, altered Hansard, pork-barreled three electorate offices, has his former chief of staff, Diana Hallam, in the position of general manager, Department of Infrastructure – Inland Rail Unit, overseeing the lay of the rail (where he coincidentally owns some ‘mongrel bush blocks) and, apparently, has had a dalliance with a female other than his wife (which is appropriate. It is ‘same sex marriage’ which will, according to him, destroy the ‘institution of marriage’, not the infidelity of those already married). Now, that’s only a few of the transgressions he committed as an illegal immigrant occupant of our parliament. If only Border Force could protect us from ‘illegals’.”

    Politics for Dummies

  22. Kaye Lee

    Another paywalled Murdoch article…..

    Barnaby Joyce affair and baby: Minister mate Matt Canavan invented ……/barnaby-joyces…/b1fc1d6221b697557a32f37cb2…

    Coalition sources also said Mr Joyce’s former chief of staff Diana Hallam was close with Mr Joyce’s wife Natalie and ultimately quit her job over the Deputy Prime Minister’s refusal to deal with the inappropriate …….

  23. Keith

    As a principle the public and private need to be kept separate. Joyce provides an exception to the rule through promoting values he was not able to uphold in relation to the same sex issue. Joyce used his family to promote himself, and then let them down. Plain hypocrisy.

  24. ace Jones

    These political assistants can literally *uck their way into the public’s financial purse, must be a long line of hookers chasing these positions .
    Give barney a flagon of wine and dispatch his sorry arse to the Salvos Men refuge , a disgusting excuse for a political leader.

  25. paul walter

    It’s like “Dangerous Liaisons”, Australian politics. When the Borbon kings broke the power of the nobility, they were left with nothing better to do but shag themselves.

    As Australia and the Australian Parliament have lost control to offshore and local kleptocratic interests, it too now only exists for show.

  26. diannaart


    With less of the “dangerous” frisson and more of bog standard stupidity.

  27. paul walter

    Gee, but it looks like it doesn’t it?

    More, “Cold Comfort Farm”….”they water-voles” as Urk might say.

  28. diannaart

    God-damn it, Paul, my parents weren’t the most literary minded of people and now I’ve discovered another author I would’ve loved.

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