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Turnbull’s latest bag of tripe

One hardly knows where to begin.

Yesterday, Head Galoot Malcolm Turnbull announced that in an effort to curb the apparent enthusiasm of his ministers for shagging their staffers, he was adding a new rule to the ministerial regulations, forbidding sexual relationships.

Only ministers are denied these pleasures: backbenchers can carry on as usual.

Turnbull has experienced considerable difficulty over the last few days defining “relationships.” This is because Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Minister Matt Canavan and Turnbull himself appear, at first blush, to have breached ministerial regulations already in existence, by conspiring to create jobs for Joyce’s lover, Vikki Campion, in various ministerial offices while she and Joyce were partners.

Were they in a relationship? Even though Mrs Joyce remains registered as his partner? The DPM got so Frenchy, so chic, sporting a wife and a mistress, and the ministerial regulations failed to anticipate this circumstance. Bronwyn Bishop took a break from her unrelenting savaging of socialism to explain that a series of one night stands is not a relationship. Centrelink disagrees.

All in all, a shamefully self-serving mangling of meaning by the Head Galoot, I thought, reminiscent of “I did not have sex with that woman” which brings me to my next point: how does Turnbull intend to define not just relationship, but “sexual?” Remember US President Bill Clinton’s infamous denial of fellatio as “sex?” Will Turnbull take this as a guide? Has he thought his new directive through? It would appear not.

We now have a situation in which ministers can be chucked out not because they’ve rorted, but because they’ve rooted, which, as Katharine Murphy points out, is a morals test the like of which we have never seen in this country prior to yesterday.

Let us consider that one in three Australian marriages fail. Some of those failed marriages are going to include those of politicians. Joyce’s marriage by all accounts failed. The reasons for that failure are nobody else’s business.

Joyce fell in love with a staffer. It seems pretty clear that the staffer fell in love with him. People fall in love. This includes politicians and staffers. Many struggling marriages come to an end when one party falls in love with someone else. That’s a well-acknowledged impetus for getting yourself out of a relationship that has run its course. It’s messy. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a catastrophic emotional event. There will be few among us who haven’t been or won’t be an abandoned partner, an abandoning partner, or a lover, at some time in our lives.

The particular problem with Joyce is that it is alleged he misused taxpayers’ money to conceal his affair, and to keep his lover employed. It is also alleged that there are several levels of murk surrounding the gifts of free accommodation and luxury holidays made to him and his lover by a wealthy and influential friend. He also did everything possible to conceal this entire situation from his New England electorate prior to the December by-election. Aided, many would observe, by a complicit media who, while adhering to their convention that politicians’ personal lives are private, failed to document the public interest story underpinning that private life.

The problem is not that Joyce, like millions of Australians, found his marriage was over and fell in love with a new partner. And yet, Turnbull has contrived to make this the core issue, rather than the allegations of ongoing rorting surrounding Joyce’s personal drama.

And so we have a thundering puritanism emerging in our parliament, instead of a sober examination of politicians misusing public money, lying to the parliament and the electorate, and taking “gifts” they ought not to accept.

Not to mention the appalling lack of adequate policies and procedures to protect workers from sexual harassment, and to give anyone who is sexually harassed, by a minister, a back bencher or anyone else, a clear and safe pathway to report that harassment.

Instead we have been served up a stinking bag of raw tripe that encourages the most prurient speculations, and leaves us with our most dire problems entirely unaddressed. This is no accident. How much easier for Turnbull to focus on the root, and leave the rorting alone.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Frank Smith

    A very perceptive article Jennifer.

    The timing of Turnbull’s meeting with Trump next week may well be a little off and poor besieged Mal could find himself in the midst of another “rooting and rorting” storm. US media organisations are scrambling over themselves as they try to outbid each other now that Stormy Daniels has decided to provide the salacious details of her alleged romps with The Donald. Where will Trump’s mind be if this “fake news” breaks just as he meets with the PM from ‘Straylya? And, given Trembles recent experience in these matters, what advice should he give the Pussy-Grabber-In-Chief? To impose a Bonk Ban in the White House would be so very unAmerican.

    Smart businesswoman is Stormy – gets $130,000 for keeping silent then, due to the ineptitude of the Trumpites, manages to sell the whole story to the highest bidder anyhow. Probably a book and maybe a movie down the track too.

  2. Ill fares the land

    Just imagine the can of worms that opens. Politics is a brutal and dirty, dirty business and as a rule, party members are far more suspicious of their brethren than they are of the opponents. After all, they know the opponents are trying to screw them and bring them down, but with your fellow party members, who knows – you have to be careful to the point of paranoia. A friend is a senior politician in a state government and he suggested that he would rather dine with an opponent, because he has to watch everything he says if he dines with one of his own – they are always looking to get an advantage they can later exploit against you.

    This stupidity by Turnbull, which I suspect he knows is stupidity but he is hoping to deflect the heat from Joyce and “muddy up the waters”, will be manna from heaven for the snitches and devious little shits in Parliament who will be watching everyone like hawks trying to catch someone out so they can “dob” on them to the “teacher”. Instead of encouraging moral and sensible behaviour in the Parliament, it will turn Ministers into even bigger deviants & sneaks than they already are.

    Joyce is an idiot, but he is that far from rare group of people whose relationships break down. We don’t really choose who we fall in love with and fall out of love with – by and large. Mind you, the older power-figure/younger woman acts out a familiar tale in politics. Have you ever seen a despotic and corrupt African leader without a much younger wife? Zuma and Mugabe are two very public examples. That alone is nowhere near the issue, but as usual the MSM allows itself to be diverted from the true story by sensation. No news in another politician rorting the system – ho-hum, they all do it and get away with it, so why do we care any more. Even if Joyce falls on his sword, he is in the unfortunate position of having his rorting become public – when most of the rooting, rorting,, cheating and corruption exacts no toll on the miscreant perpetrator. Witness the hysteria over Dastyari and the total ignorance of Andrew Robb’s abject corruption with Chinese interests.

  3. Wun Farlung

    As I was watching the so called Prime Minister and his Deputy stumbling, bumbling, stuttering and staggering through press conferences this morning, I am left wondering that these people can’t be the best they have,I’ll admit Turnbull(shit) is pretty good at the look over there, they’ve been rooting routine
    Sadly a bit over half the voting population decided otherwise at the last election.

  4. paul walter

    Strange days, indeed!

    Updating, it is announced that Joyce is holding a presser.

    I presume this is to announce his resignation, which would be a relief for him and a relief for everyone else.

    It would be a strange backflip given his desperate attempt to hold on to the DPM regardless of harm done all or any others, but he has little credibility left.

    Just flicking on the tel to see what is next. It seems Kevin Andrews, persecutor of Dr Haneef and sex morals militant is following Erica Abetz in attempting some sort of defence of Joyce? This has become a Mad Hatters Tea Party.
    I am also hearing Joyce is turning up NOT to resign but grizzle about been picked on for his morals. Give me strength.

    It is not just about the sex. Turnbull talked tripe saying this has been only about sex (or “love” as Jennifer Wilson puts it) and if Joyce is going to carry on along the same line, claiming persecution, then I start to wonder who put the LSD in my fruit juice this morning.

    If Joyce has actually the cheek to hang on, it can only mean that the conservatives are so single minded in their hate of Turnbull that they will protect a charlatan and risk the government being thrown out just to get at Turnbull

    They are nutters.

    If they end up actually strengthening slimy Turnbull’s position, they will have done more harm than they can ever guess.

  5. paul walter

    Caught up with it.


    What a bunch of cranks.

  6. Dr Soup

    Thank you – it is nice that someone in the media finally gets the point, that it is not about the morals but about potential misuse of money. If Turnbull really wanted to ensure all Ministers were “moral”, surely Dutton would be the first one to go?

  7. Christopher

    thank you Jennifer. I knew as soon as I became a manager that my staff were off limits. No one needed to tell me, it wasn’t written down.

    what an absolute tosser is our PM

  8. Phil

    Great point Jennifer: “This is no accident. How much easier for Turnbull to focus on the root, and leave the rorting alone”

    So many questions to answer and they are not going away. Labor must keep the pressure on the rorting questions, and while we are waiting, lets hear a lot more questions asked of Minister M Cash and her parliamentary pets, the AFP.

  9. Roswell

    On that point, Phil, I’d reckon that many Libs would be enjoying this.

    The focus is now off whatever sneaky, low-life thing they’re up to, and for those who don’t like Barnaby’s grip on Turnbull, they could be pleased to see it starting to loosen.

    Wait! What on earth am I talking about? Of course they like Barnaby’s grip on Turnbull. It keeps them in power.

  10. Aortic

    Unbelievable! It has come down to this, this wet lettuce wimpy PM is now communicating with his bucolic buffoonish deputy through press conferences in Tasmania. I am in my seventies and cannot ever remember such a scenario. If Turnbull doesn’t act quickly and decisively his hallmark thirtieth poll results are going to put him way beyond any semblance of recovery, and it will be thoroughly merited.

  11. diannaart

    And so we have a thundering puritanism emerging in our parliament, instead of a sober examination of politicians misusing public money, lying to the parliament and the electorate, and taking “gifts” they ought not to accept.

    Not to mention the appalling lack of adequate policies and procedures to protect workers from sexual harassment, and to give anyone who is sexually harassed, by a minister, a back bencher or anyone else, a clear and safe pathway to report that harassment.

    Instead we have been served up a stinking bag of raw tripe that encourages the most prurient speculations, and leaves us with our most dire problems entirely unaddressed. This is no accident. How much easier for Turnbull to focus on the root, and leave the rorting alone.

    Yes, indeed, I and many others have made similar remarks this past week. The sad thing is the absence of an independent and uncompromised 4th estate to question such obvious layers of snake oil administered by “Father Knows Best” Turnbull.

    I keep thinking things cannot become any more ridiculous and then they do…

  12. John O'Callaghan

    Abbott will be clapping his hands with glee and doing a jig down the hallway,Kevin Andrews started the ball rolling this morning by telling Turnbull he should postpone his trip to Washington and sort this mess out .
    The Abbott goon squad are locked down in their bunker,scheming and dreaming,and planning their coup against the man they truly hate and despise, and no it aint Bill Shorten!

  13. Freethinker

    I am confused, starting to believe that my English is so bad that got all wrong about what Turnbull has said regarding Joyce behavior.

    Today, in Tasmania he has said this, quote:
    “Neither I nor my colleagues have made any criticism of the National Party, expressing views of disapproval or criticism of Barnaby’s own conduct.”

    Then in his mew code of conduct he said, quote: “Barnaby made a shocking error of judgment in having an affair with a young woman working in his office. In doing so he has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us”

    “…….Now, I think we all know that Barnaby’s error of judgment, that is the foundation of the woes that have followed, particularly for his family and indeed for his new partner.”

    Are the above statements approving or disapproving Barnaby’s conduct?
    My understanding is that yes, he passed judgment on Barnaby’s conduct but perhaps I am wrong.
    If I am correct t this man is treating every of us including the journalists with contempt.
    Inputs are appreciated.

  14. Cynthia

    I resent these people (Joyce, Dutton, Cash etc.) being referred to as The Honourable Member for ……….wherever). Honourable people would never elicit such disgust.

  15. John Ricahrdson

    Fortunately, while the intellectual giants in the Prime Minister’s office who decided that two people cohabiting aren’t partners try & figure out whether those involved in a ménage à trois are engaged in a relationship, the party-goers at the bordello on the hill already understand that the ban doesn’t extend to a bit of spontaneous slap & tickle, the occasional late night fling or even the odd weekend tryst.
    No easy task being the puritan in sin city.

  16. paul walter

    Why is Barnaby attacking Turnbull…defence of “family values?

    As if Turnbull would understand what “morals” are either. Even if he fell over one, given many of his government’s policies.

    Yes, it is the inability of these people to conceptualise in relation to a workable concept of “morals” that is at the root (‘scuse I) of all these carryings-on.

    Ask the homeless, DV victims trapped through funding cut for DV shelters, the unemployed and DB recipients from Centrelink, people being sneakily bombed still in the Mid East, Aboriginals: add you own category, so many..

  17. Andrew Smith

    One imagines this confirms the old stereotypes of Catholics that the ageing WASP blue bloods in the Liberal Party hold; John Howard gave those of Catholic background opportunities in LNP governments and look what happens! They possess the same sense of entitlement that the blue bloods have! Meanwhile Dutton, yesterday, tries an anti-immigrant dog whistle, ‘look over there’.

    It’s fascinating to see how WASP conservatives in the Anglo world (Oz, UK & US) have been dealing with change and increasing diversity (highlighted in mainstream media), in addition to constant attack and dog whistle mode against diversity and fighting each other, they have to kick the door open occasionally to other types for maintenance of numbers and support, as WASPs decline in numbers and influence….

    Think Vic Libs Opposition Leader suggested strategy of not recruiting more members of increasingly diverse local and/or general community, but Mormon and Evangelical Christians, presumably obedient of authority, credulous, know how to raise money and act as praetorian guard to protect top down policy (versus grounded bottom up).

    Post WWII most Australians opposed both Catholic and Jewish immigration…. assume many still do; to this day US white nativist movement hence, many Republicans, have no time for Hispanic or Latino Catholics versus Irish or European (who presumably act and look WASP).

  18. Peter Kelly

    I seriously doubt anyone ‘fell in love’ here, lust would be a good starting point, & things only went off the rail when Campion found herself pregnant. Barney has major character flaws, lacking the sense to apply the pub test to his own behaviour while ironically berating Scott Ludlam over citizenship & braying at Dastyari over gifts from ‘mates’. His sense of entitlement clouds his judgement & Australia is worse off for it.

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