On the end of Barnaby Joyce


Brian Crooks writes: Re. “Joyce quits — and doubles the backbench trouble for Turnbull“(Friday)

Barney says the voters love him. Hang on, he was the only real candidate, nobody else stood, and even fine cotton could win a one horse race. The intimidation the Nationals put on Tony Windsor and his family kept him and every other reasonable candidates out. Tammany hall politics in New England was the real winner, but the voters there are going to be the big losers, when Labor wins office there will be no incentive to give New England anything,  if Joyce and the Nats stay on.

Tony Windsor understood that and stayed very independent, played both parties to the hilt and won great things for his area. Joyce has claimed those wins as his and people actually believed it. Barney might be a loser now, but New England will be the biggest loser if they vote him back next election.

Greg Poropat writes: Re. “Joyce quits — and doubles the backbench trouble for Turnbull“(Friday)

Journalists have engaged in much navel gazing about whether or not Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with his former employee should have been reported. There is no answer to this question other than “yes”.

The electorate and journalists’ reading and listening publics rely on our political representatives to act honestly, with integrity and in accordance with their espoused values. For many, that is a critical determinant in the choice made at the ballot box. If it weren’t, why do political parties spend so much researching the electorate’s perception of the trustworthiness of individual politicians?

In many people’s minds, Joyce’s sexual behaviour has not been honest or with integrity.

Any aspect of a politician’s personal life that (significantly) reflects upon that politician’s honesty, integrity or values is information that the public is entitled to be aware of in assessing the desirability or otherwise of conferring upon that person the great trust that accompanies being a member of parliament. Journalists have a responsibility to report these matters. If third parties such as family are hurt in this process, that is a sad but unavoidable fact of life: it happens in many other matters the media reports upon. 

The journalists who, before the New England byelection, knew of Joyce’s behaviour breached their code by not reporting it as a matter New England voters were entitled to be informed of and account for in their decision as to who would, and would not, receive their vote.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey