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Crazy Little Thing Called Lust

23 February 2018

It is being said in some quarters that Barnaby Joyce has been unfairly thrown under a bus. If that is so, then I suggest that the bus goes by the name of Karma. And it was no-one other than Barnaby who threw himself under its wheels.

There is something in all of this that certain people are not getting. And until they do, the lesson will not go away.

Joyce, like many of his born-to-privilege colleagues is fixated on the issues of morality and personal relationship choices as the cause of the fiasco. Joyce’s angry statement “Personal issues shouldn’t be a reason for a person to resign” is testament to this mindset. And in that sense he is more or less correct. A person’s public life should be separate from his or her private life, but when those private life choices impinge on one’s ability to carry out official duties, or culminate in nepotism, rorting and bias; then that becomes an issue for public scrutiny. That, to me is the line in the sand. Clearly many hold to that sentiment, and hence the outrage over Barnaby’s recent foibles. But conceited, self-serving men like Barnaby cannot see this. That is their problem, and that will ultimately spell their downfall.

Barnaby, obsessed as he is with self-interest and personal gain completely misses the point that it is not his personal relationship choices that should dictate his resignation; it is the fact that the greater good of his party, the Coalition and indeed the Australian public is increasingly damaged as a result of the ongoing distraction and controversy. The fact that Joyce saw fit to apologise to his ex-wife, his family and new partner on national television gave the whole fiasco a public dimension. The fact that he felt it unnecessary to use that national broadcast opportunity to make an apology to the Australian public which he serves is telling. And Aussies have long memories.

For somebody who made a platform of piousness – of championing traditional family values and supposedly protecting young women from promiscuity – to live a life diametrically opposed to the values one espouses just isn’t a good look. Nor does it gain you respect. And you’re really setting yourself up for a fall in this day and age of social media; there is always someone with a screenshot who is more than willing to remind everybody of what you said or did.

A true leader always leads by example. “Actions speak louder than words” is a truism which neatly sums it up. Sadly many of our political leaders fall well short of this ideal. The fact is anybody can talk, but few can pass the litmus test of practicing what they preach.

In a ‘compare the pair’ moment, cast your mind back to the Sam Dastyari affair when controversy threatened to cast a shadow over normal proceedings (if indeed anything is truly normal in Canberra these days). The matter was promptly nipped in the bud with the decision quickly made for Sam to step down. Parliament and Labor moved on. Barnaby on the other hand, is quite happy to play out as the precocious child who isn’t getting what he wants; openly disrespecting his leader publically in the process. For him the personal stakes are high, and he is a man who will clearly not allow the needs of the many to get in the way of the needs of the one – that ‘one’ being Barnaby Joyce.

It doesn’t take a behavioural expert to see in Joyce a man who has lived his life getting whatever he wants at the expense of others. And in that respect, life experience tells me that a leopard never changes its spots.

Barnaby suggests that “there is nothing to see here.” In actual fact there is everything to see here, in the sense that the whole affair (no pun intended) showcases the key problem which dogs the incumbent government – their singular tendency to lack perspective taking, and their obsession with self-aggrandisement and self-interest to the detriment of the greater good.

This week saw a socially inept and tasteless display on social media by Joyce’s Nationals colleague George Christensen. An unrepentant Christensen could see no wrong in the crass photograph he posted, threatening greenies with a handgun. It was pointed out to him that this was inappropriate, particularly in the wake of a school shooting in the States which claimed 17 young lives. Far from being contrite, he instead chose to sarcastically berate those who took offence.

Holding public office carries with it an implicit expectation to set community standards by your own behaviour. And clearly people make a yardstick of politicians’ behaviour – I only need point to the disgusting ‘copycat’ behaviour which occurred in the wake of Christensen’s inappropriate post in the form of offensive social media threats against figures like Sarah Hanson-Young to highlight how this behaviour emboldens and empowers ‘followers’, who only need the cue from a ‘leader’ to act out their thoughts.

A true leader leads by example. The sad reality is a vast proportion of our current crop of politicians is cut from rougher cloth.

Indeed, Barnaby’s crisis points to the government’s endemic problem. The dramatist in me would call this a tale of love and lust.  Our current government is riddled with individuals thirsting for power and personal gain. Self-interest has overtaken the principled responsive approach to public service. And I predict it will be this broader notion of civic love – or more correctly the dire lack of it – which will bring down this government.

If nothing else, Malcolm is a man who can see shortcomings and he has consistently acted to step in and shore them up. For example, he recognised John Alexander’s personal limitations as a public speaker during the Bennelong by-election; seconding Alexander to a mute ‘Humphrey B Bear’ role while he picked up the perceived slack as the talking head. In a wider sense Turnbull has spent a goodly proportion of his term in office playing ringmaster to a second rate circus.

He surely knows that the bottom line is that the public need to ‘feel the love’ from their government; to feel a sense of inclusion and cohesion from those they have selected to serve them. There is a wholesale loss of voter confidence in the two-party system. Public perception of politicians is at an all-time low. Used car salesmen and real estate agents must be wringing their hands together gleefully; grateful for the distraction that MPs have given provided them. Rightly or wrongly, the public see fingers in the till at every opportunity. The sense of entitlement and contempt for rule of law. Politicians showboating at gala events like catwalk models. Swanning around the world at public expense with partners in tow. (Funny how they seem to be conveniently viewed as partners when the need arises). Corruption and bare-faced lies are now perceived as political ‘business as usual.’

Even as I write this comes the news that Australia has fallen a further 8 points on the global corruption index. For the first time we have dropped from the top 10 least corrupt nations. At the same time our government is slamming the idea of a federal corruption commission as completely unnecessary. Move along nothing to see here folks.

Malcolm must sense that, at its heart, his government isn’t capable of delivering on the goods. In a previous article I discussed Malcolm’s telling over-use of the word ‘love’. It came as no surprise to me that Malcolm put his own relationship with Lucy on public display in a recent 60 Minutes segment, in a practical demonstration of love and harmony. I for one have no cause to doubt Malcolm and Lucy’s connection and love for one another. Indeed it was clearly evident and refreshing to behold, set against the lovelessness of his Canberra colleagues. And that’s the important thing about love – absolutely no words are necessary to tell people that it exists; they can feel and sense it. What I simply cannot buy is the implication that this same deep and loving commitment exists within Turnbull’s own government. Nor would I suggest do many members of the public.

Until a sense of practical love and respect replaces the current culture of greed and self-interest in the halls of power, the people will remain disenchanted and tuned out to those they have increasingly come to see as a dishonest self-serving ruling class.

Whether or not she actually said it; Marie Antoinette’s classic line springs to mind: “Let them eat cake.” The children of the revolution saw the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. Between love and lust. And by the time it inevitably came, the guillotine blade cared little for either.


29 comments

  1. Olivia Manor

    Well said!

  2. helvityni

    Nice title, well written article.

    Glad that someone else found that very public show of “I’m still in love with Lucy” somewhat cringeworthy….

  3. Aortic

    I love Lucy was a comedy on TV as well.

  4. John O'Callaghan

    Exellent writing and a wonderful take on the current situation!

  5. Bert

    AorticFebruary 23, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    “I love Lucy was a comedy on TV as well.”

    And a friggin horrible one at that

  6. MikeW

    I’m more interested in Barnaby’s duel citizenship than his love/lust life.
    How about all the years he’s been in parliament with taxpayers footing the bill, when he was there illegally, shouldn’t he be paying all this money back.

  7. jimhaz

    I was speaking to a radical ultra-conservative last weekend. He is actively involved in party politics, but presently holds no official positions.

    He hates the Nationals, though not as much as the left. Can’t stand the power they hold over the Liberals. Nothing he’d like better just at the moment than the Liberals to have a big go at taking them out by providing Liberal candidates in National seats.

    With Bernadi’s party and the Nats causing havoc one would hope for a loss of power due to this division. If Bernadi’s party grows and Abbott was to somehow take over, one could see a fair percentage of members moving over to that party.

    Probably there is a low probability of this occurring – but as our conservatives are gradually shifting closer and closer to the corrupt and insane modus operandi of the US republicans, the division is not necessarily a good thing.

    As for BJ’s love affair. I expect them to separate within 12 months, by the choice of VC.

  8. Richard

    Shorten and Chloe were married to others when they conceived their first child.

  9. Roswell

    He’s gone! He’s stepping down as leader of the Nats, which also means he will no longer be deputy PM.

  10. diannaart

    Goddamnit, Roswell, I was about to post the joyous news and you beat me to the plate.

    I guess the latest claim of abuse finally got Joyce to shift his arse, well only to the back bench.

    Who was surprised Barnaby would have a complaint made against him for behaving badly?

    Some people just don’t get it.

  11. Diane Larsen

    He is going to the backbench, hopefully next step is out the door, if it’s clear air he is after then don’t let the door hit you on the way out

  12. GrumpyT

    A couple of things (well maybe more).

    1.Barnaby’s resignation does not solve the problems for the LNP Government – he is now much freer to cross the floor. Something called revenge springs to mind. Sit back and watch.
    2. For me, the real problem with the ‘situation’ is the rorting etc done behind the scenes and the outright dishonesty. I won’t list them. The unfaithfulness really saddens me, but in that he is very much not alone in our society, as mentioned by Richard.
    3. Whilst we may have a new party in power after the next election (one can live in hope), are they going to be better at being honest, tell it like it is and be ready to make tough decisions? I shall not hold my breath.

  13. Wun Farlung

    The ALP has announced a policy position regarding Federal corruption commission that was all but ignored by the MSM.
    The LNP response
    Cue the crickets sound track Mal

  14. Matters Not

    Re:

    Some people just don’t get it.

    So very true! There was so much more political damage that could’ve been done if he remained defiant. Turnbull and the LNP off the hook once again and still with a majority.

    A pity. The electorate soon forgets

  15. Jai Ritter

    Seems to be a comment blackout again at the Guardian. About 8 articles on barnaby and not one open.

  16. helvityni

    Aortic ,Bert,

    I wrote first ‘I love Lucy’, but changed it… it was a bloody awful show, it hurt my ears to listen to the female ‘comedian’… once was enough.

  17. ozibody

    I , for one , will appreciate the curtain coming down on all the titillation of the past week – and will have to endure a ‘ closing ceremony ‘ whilst the msm trots out the (floral) tributes so as to ‘dress over’ the unsightly B.J. scab, tell the public ‘all is well ‘, … and in fact has never been better ……… as M.T. and ( associated business ) colleagues return from the U.S.of A to shed flowers and light all over the tax cuts debacle, whilst lying their heads off about how we absolutely must follow D.T’s innovative lead! … Double celebration !!

    One way and another there could be quite a concocted festival coming our way ? … but then, what’s new in neocon world ?

  18. king1394

    Joyce needs to leave Parliament, not just take to the back bench. Of course another by-election in New England would ensue, which might cause some angst among the political parties

  19. Möbius Ecko

    Joyce said moving to the back bench gives him an opportunity to write his book.

    What is it with pollies who go to the back bench to undertake private work for personal profit on public wages. I thought they had a job whilst there to serve the country.

  20. Matters Not

    Given there will e a new Leader of the Nationals and new Deputy PM, there a whole new round of horse trading to be done. The new Leader gets to decide who will be in the Ministry and in the Cabinet as well. The phones will be ringing – there’s any number of deals to be done. Will Chester be resurrected? What about Pitt? Will Canavan still be in Cabinet? Will he run for the Leadership this time? Or wait for later because at some time he will be a contender.

    Lots of things to think about. Joyce isn’t in the same boat as Abbott because while Tony was an unpopular leader Barnaby was very popular with the national constituency. He, like Abbott, will not be content to just make up the numbers. Barnaby knows all the Cabinet secrets and will get lots of inside info, particularly if Canavan remains in Cabinet. etc

  21. Kronomex

    Joyce isn’t about to quit politics unless he’s removed at the next election. He’s too used to having his piggy snout buried deep in the taxpayer funded feedlot.

    I can imagine the title of his, most probably ghost written, book: Barnaby’s Big Book of Bilious Bullshit. Four months after it’s on sale the bookshops won’t be able to give it and it will windup as landfill as do most books about, and by, the nasty children who inhabit the sandpit that is federal politics.

    Abbott and Joyce, the worst comedy act in Australian history, will probably team up on the quiet to plan the downfall of Turnbull.

  22. Terry2

    Did you notice that the TV cameras showed Barnaby putting out his cigarette before making his announcement : media management, previously the responsibility of Vikki would not have allowed that to go to air.

  23. Leo Jai

    I think Gareth Evan’s classic advice to Bob Hawke in the party room is very fitting for Barnaby today:
    “Pull out, digger. The dogs are pissing on your swag.”

    To which I will simply add:
    “Australians all let us de-Joyce”

  24. ozibody

    @ Möbius Ecko February 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    I concur with the sentiments you expressed.

    In a way it’s the case with many Politicians (particularly back bench and Senate cross bench) who seem to be there ” for personal profit on public wages ” , and , effectively they perform enough ‘Public Service ‘ (supported by friendly msm along with personal propaganda) so as to retain the seat – maybe this defines a ‘safe seat’ ?

    In the neocon sphere it would seem the performance of service for the National benefit runs well behind attainment of their credo.

  25. Matters Not

    Lots of male names advanced to replace Joyce. No mention of the female Deputy as a possible leader.

    Not surprised. She was there as a token – just like her predecessor. It’s unthinkable that the Nationals could be led by a female. For a start she couldn’t front the bar and drink with the blokes. She, and they, just wouldn’t be comfortable. LOL.

  26. thebustopher

    A bus?? Oh, a bus! I thought they were saying he’d been thrown under a bust.

  27. Zathras

    I suppose poor Gina Reinhart will have to groom a brand new acolyte to do her bidding and grovel at her feet.

    Although he’s now off the front bench I’m guessing Barnaby won’t be awarded any more of her National Agricultural and Related Industries $40,000 cash prizes (or anything else for that matter).

    As for him being a “retail politician” – whatever than means- he could talk the talk but never managed to walk the walk as a Minister in any of his portfolios.

  28. Max Gross

    “…self-aggrandisement and self-interest to the detriment of the greater good.” Pure LNP!

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