Barnaby Joyce told listeners during a radio interview this morning that he had been elected to the role of Deputy PM and would have no guilt about reclaiming the role. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch
Barnaby Joyce told listeners during a radio interview this morning that he had been elected to the role of Deputy PM and would have no guilt about reclaiming the role. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch

Barnaby Joyce is completely out of touch

Perhaps Barnaby Joyce isn't great with dates.

Because it seems to have slipped his mind that just over 13 months ago, it became a matter of public record that a "Bundle of Joyce" was in the works. In February last year, the world suddenly became aware that he was expecting a baby with former staffer Vikki Campion after an extra marital affair.

It's difficult to adequately describe the ensuing days, except that they were rife with a an outrageously entitled presumption from Joyce - some might call it a delusion - that he could carry on as though nothing had happened.

He eventually recognised that was not to be.

Joyce clung on for a bit, but it soon became abundantly clear that he had to go as leader of the National Party, and thus, would no longer be Deputy Prime Minister. He tendered his resignation a few weeks after the scandal broke. That too, was only just over a year ago.

And yet, just this morning he's decided to let Australian voters know that he remains "the elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia".

Barnaby Joyce said he was still the “elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia” in an interview this morning. Picture: Andy Rogers
Barnaby Joyce said he was still the “elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia” in an interview this morning. Picture: Andy Rogers

The comment, made on ABC Radio National, was couched by the caveat that Joyce was "not going to call a spill, I am not looking for numbers".

Joyce went on to say: "If there was a spill, the position is vacant, I am the elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, so I'd have no guilt at all standing - but I don't see that happening."

But if that's the case, why the not-so-subtle reminder of his former role, and Joyce's underlining his view that he's still somehow entitled to it?

Voters know that he was elected to that position, but Australians are also very cognisant that Joyce continuing in the role became untenable due to his own actions. A politician who campaigned on a platform of conservative "family values" having an affair with a staffer was on the nose to many.

It was behaviour that was deemed unbecoming of a deputy PM - and that's precisely why he had to go. Even the then PM, Malcolm Turnbull, waded in and called the situation "a shocking error of judgement".

Joyce retorted that Turnbull's comment's were "inept".

Joyce never seemed to fully grasp the extent of public outcry and outrage at his actions, leading to what could be characterised as a profound crisis in Joyce's relationship with voters. Joyce clearly saw his behaviour one way, the public another.

Nothing's changed.

The affair between Vikki Campion and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce led to Joyce resigning from role as Nationals leader. Picture: AAP/Supplied/Channel 7
The affair between Vikki Campion and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce led to Joyce resigning from role as Nationals leader. Picture: AAP/Supplied/Channel 7

In the last few months, there have been consistent reports that Joyce was "open" to once again becoming the Nationals leader, and had recently been "ready to pounce" as he was of the view that he'd paid the price for his indiscretions.

It's a position he seemed to declare again this morning. To onlookers, it seems obvious he's trying to exert pressure on Michael McCormack, the current leader of the National Party.

But if Joyce really wants to reclaim a role he seems to believe is rightfully his, he needs to show contrition.

He needs to display greater judgment, and perhaps be more mindful of sounding entitled to a role he won before he was undone by unwise decisions. He needs to show the Australian public he has a deep understanding of why they were affronted by his actions in the first place, and that he actually deserved to lose the position as Nationals leader.

If he somehow manages to convince voters of this, he must allow a greater passage of time. He needs to let his actions to speak for themselves; a year is not long enough to fully consign his scandal to the archives.

And Joyce should also take the time to consider that he may never again be leader too.

Because if he actually took time to speak to ordinary voters, he might find they're sick of the revolving door of politicians who, once they've been divested of a leadership role, seem unable to grasp that that part of their career may be over. For good.

Victoria Hannaford is a writer and producer for RendezView.

@vhannaford



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