JOYCE TO THE WORLD: I’M LIVING IN A ‘BACHELOR’S PAD’

National’s leader Barnaby Joyce has gone on the record with Fairfax, hosting journalist James Massola in his rent-free Armidale apartment with the hope of ending the scrutiny over his personal life and dispelling the idea he is living in a “palace”. Joyce told Massola the apartment, provided by businessman Greg Maguire, was a “bachelor’s pad” and that he and former staffer Vikki Campion will be forced to move out because of the constant media presence.

Campion was not interviewed or photographed, saying only that her yet-to-be born child will be given a middle name to honour her brothers, the only people who knew about her situation before it broke in the media.

Here are a few takeaways from the chat;

  • Joyce said he still has majority support in the Nationals’ party room, where his leadership may be tested on Monday;
  • Joyce said Malcolm Turnbull never directly asked him about his relationship with Campion, and said he can still work alongside the Prime Minister;
  • Campion’s salary improved by no more than $5ooo as she moved from Joyce’s office to that of other Nationals MPs; and
  • Joyce criticised News Corp for running a front-page image of a heavily pregnant Campion.

Joyce is now asking the public and the press to move on from the affair.

“I don’t want to say have sympathy for me,” he said. “I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they’re having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there.”

Extracts from the interview have ended up on the front pages of News Corp papers today, with writers none too pleased about Joyce’s decision to give the story to their rival.

“Rather than stay out of the limelight during a week of personal leave,” writes The Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri “you’ll never get a cabinet leak Markson, “Mr Joyce instead gave an interview to a sympathetic Fairfax reporter. Markson reports ($) today that Joyce was delayed for a chopper tour of cyclone-ravaged communities while acting prime minister last April because he was tending to an unwell Campion, but Joyce’s office said the flight was delayed while waiting for media to arrive.

ADANI DEADLINE DELAYED

The company behind Australia’s most contentious coal project has pushed back a self-imposed deadline to fund the enterprise ($).

Mining company Adani had said previously that it would secure funding by the end of March — when the Indian financial year ends — but has now conceded that goal has been pushed back. The company wants to develop what would become Australia’s largest coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin but has been beset by environmental complaints and an ongoing failure to find cash for the project.

The company told The Australian Financial Review that it remained 100% committed to the project and blamed the Queensland government’s decision to veto a Northern Infrastructure Facility loan for the delay.

A TOUCH OF FACE-ISM

Facial recognition technology could replace the use of some passports at Sydney International Airport as soon as May.

Sydney airport head Geoff Culbert said the new trial could help end the awkward process of “fumbling for passports”.

While the trial will be a voluntary, opt-in scheme at first, expectations of a rapid expansion have provoked warnings of compromised privacy. “My face belongs to me, just as my browsing data belongs to me. The nature of the data that is collected is quite sensitive because it is facial recognition data,” the University of Sydney’s Uri Gal told Fairfax.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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DFAT’s cyclone help for Vanuatu ‘has not met expectations’ ($)

Robert Mueller files new charges against former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

THEY REALLY SAID THAT

“[Malcolm Turnbull] never asked any direct questions and to be honest, if I believed it was private, I wouldn’t have told him either.”

— National’s leader Barnaby Joyce thus explained to Fairfax media his “don’t ask, don’t tell, still don’t tell even if you’re asked” policy regarding sexual relations with staff.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will unveil the company’s half-year results and speak to the press.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Abbott’s anti-immigration push dead, buried and cremated — Greg Sheridan (The Australian $): “The wretched populism involved in turning against immigration may yield some resentment-corner political dividends. It will also yield very bad policy for the national interest.”

Relax, there’s no need to follow Trump on company tax – yet — Peter Martin (Sydney Morning Herald): “Eventually we will probably have to cut our company tax rate, and cut it below 25 per cent. Tax competition from Donald Trump and others, of the kind our Reserve Bank Governor describes as “regrettable”, will make it inevitable. But there’s no reason to rush, yet. Despite what we are being told, at the moment the benefits just aren’t that big.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

‘The worst couple of weeks in the ABC’s modern era’ — Emily Watkins: “Even before that last blunder, one former ABC foreign correspondent and senior journalist, who asked not to be named, told Crikey the situation at the national broadcaster was “diabolical”.”

Sing along if you know the words: Abbott’s greatest hits at the Sydney Institute — Margot Saville: “At the age of 60, many men and women still have a great deal to offer their country or their chosen career. So what has our least effective Prime Minister been doing all this time, other than honing his ability to entertain pensioners? On the face of it, not much.”

It’s not that Barnaby is a hypocrite. It’s that conservatism itself is in crisis. — Guy Rundle: “With the desperate defence of Joyce’s privacy, conservatives conceded the final redoubt of their defence to progressives. Indeed they overshot: in their disregard of a child on the way from this affair, the right is stepping into the territory of post-Woodstock 1970s era cultural nihilism, that even progressives pulled back from.” 

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 

Peter Fray

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