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.