Joyce scandal reveals ugly political truth

Forget the affair with the staffer for one moment. Put aside the pain the Joyce family must be enduring right now. There is a much deeper anger brewing at the heart of the scandal involving the Deputy Prime Minister, one all politicians ignore at their own peril.

Like an onion being peeled to reveal a rotten core, the Barnaby Joyce story gets worse by the day. On Thursday morning, The Sydney Morning Herald revealed National Party members – the party faithful who devote their time handing out at polling booths and raising funds – had paid Mr Joyce’s way while he was recontesting his seat after falling foul of the citizenship rules.

For the average Aussie worker whose wages have been stuck in neutral, the thought of a bloke who earns $416,000 a year not being able to tide himself over for six weeks seems extraordinary and more than a little unfair. 

This revelation came after news he had lived rent-free through the same period, something he only declared after it was revealed by the media.

Mr Joyce’s defence of his living arrangement was that it was offered by a mate who refused any form of payment. As a candidate, not a sitting member at the time, Mr Joyce maintains he was under no obligation to declare the arrangement. 

All this rings totally hollow for the legions of fellow Australians who find themselves without a home for whatever reason – be it relationship breakdown, unemployment, illness or just plain bad luck.

This was the bloke who said not long ago about Sydney’s housing affordability crisis: “We believe that houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just accept that.” 

If that statement jarred at the time, it grates painfully now.

Questions will continue to be asked about Mr Joyce’s expenses claims for visits to Canberra outside sitting times and travel with his mistress Vikki Campion.  

The saga puts the spotlight squarely on the privileges enjoyed by our political masters and the lesser MPs we elect to represent us and look after our interests, not their own.

Joyce is not the first parliamentarian to be caught up in a scandal and certainly won’t be the last.

While many might forgive the affair that destroyed his marriage, few will look kindly upon someone so well paid relying on others to tide him over through a difficult period brought on by his own decisions.