Barnaby Joyce: the story of an unlikely rise and a self-inflicted fall



File 20180223 108119 vdf7n6.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Barnaby Joyce’s departure to the backbench obviously brings immediate relief for the government and the Nationals.
AAP/Marlon Dalton

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In the end, the tough man crumpled. For a fortnight Barnaby Joyce had resembled someone out in the snow who’d broken through the pain threshold, as he defied massive pressure and political common sense to try to cling to his job.

But as the scandal engulfing him tore at the government, he finally gave way; on his own account, a sexual harassment allegation that was revealed publicly only on Thursday was the last straw.

Most observers thought the saga had to come to Friday’s conclusion. The media stories weren’t going to stop. They were of two kinds. There were those surrounding the employment arrangements made for his former staffer and now pregnant partner Vikki Campion. The others were the various claims of inappropriate behaviour that kept surfacing.

His Nationals colleagues, despite their admiration for Joyce’s campaigning and other abilities, looked on aghast during the last two weeks, increasingly pessimistic about the way things were going. Never mind his enemies – by Thursday, even his loyalists could not see a way through.




Read more:
Barnaby Joyce wields the tea towel in the government’s soap opera


Within the government, clearly the relationship with Malcolm Turnbull was gone after the prime minister’s extraordinary personal attack last week and Joyce’s counterpunch. The staged weekend meeting to suggest a patch-up was farcical.

The fact that Joyce informed Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann, rather than Turnbull himself, of his impending resignation announcement says it all. Joyce’s opinion of Turnbull now likely matches what Tony Abbott thinks of Turnbull. Abbott had a thinly veiled jibe in his tribute to Joyce, saying “part of the problem has been poor management at the most senior levels of government”.

Joyce’s departure to the backbench obviously brings immediate relief for the government and the Nationals. What it will mean beyond that is more difficult to predict.

Michael McCormack, from New South Wales, seems virtually certain to become the new Nationals leader. He’s a junior minister with a relatively low profile, and has sometimes been shielded in parliament’s Question Time by more senior ministerial colleagues. The party is moving in behind McCormack, because there is no real alternative, and in an effort to show it is regrouping.

Another NSW National, David Gillespie, has also put up his hand – despite still waiting on a High Court decision about his constitutional eligibility to sit in parliament. But he is not a chance.

McCormack might grow into the job, as leaders sometimes do. Tim Fischer (unkindly) likes to remind me that I wrote him off when he became leader, and then had to acknowledge how well he turned out.

But taking over in these circumstances will be hard going for the new chief, who must sell himself in the electorate as well as establish enough authority within the government to enable the Nationals to punch above their numerical weight.

In the parliament, the Nationals are a top-down party. They number only 21, so they need their leadership to be strong – ideally not just the leader but their other senior ministers as well.

They are eons from the glory days of John McEwen, Doug Anthony, Ian Sinclair and Peter Nixon. But Joyce, under whom the party performed well at the 2016 election, enabled it to hold its own in the Coalition.

His successor will step into a Coalition climate in which many Liberals are furious that the Joyce scandal and the Nationals’ failure to resolve it quickly wiped out the government’s good start to the year. Also, even before all this happened, the rural Liberals, looking for more bounty and kudos, were flexing their muscle against their Nationals colleagues.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Is Barnaby’s baby a matter of ‘public interest’ or just of interest to the public?


Joyce (like Abbott before him) says he won’t snipe from the backbench. They all say that, the cynic might observe (especially a cynic watching Abbott’s run-up to Turnbull’s expected 30 losing Newspolls).

On the other hand, Joyce’s fall is different from that of Abbott. He was not knifed in a coup by his own party. Indeed, even on Thursday, some Nationals sources believed Joyce probably still had the numbers (whether they would have held in a spill is something else).

Joyce was brought down by his own behaviour, relentless media disclosures, and the reality that the government could not stand the damage being done to it.

Whatever he might say about being busy on other fronts, with the baby and all, discipline and quietness are not in Joyce’s nature. When he first entered the parliament as a Queensland senator, he crossed the floor countless times and caused many headaches for the Nationals’ leadership.

It would be surprising if, as a backbencher in the lower house, he keeps his opinions to himself, even if he eschews floor-crossing, given the government’s tight numbers.

It’s premature to judge how damaged Joyce is as a campaigner in regional Australia. Initial opinion polls are a limited guide. If it turns out he still has cache as a retail politician, it will be interesting to see how extensively the Nationals, under their new leader, choose to use him in the next election campaign.

At a human level, Joyce is the story of an unlikely rise and a self-inflicted fall.

Joyce – who garnered international publicity when he threatened to euthanise Johnny Depp’s dogs – has always been a larger-than-life politician, a distinctive brand.

When he arrived in Canberra in 2005, no-one thought he’d ever lead the Nationals. He punched through, overcame setbacks, and remade himself while retaining the characteristics that led people to regard him as authentic.

But then his personal flaws and indulgences cost him all he’d worked and schemed for, as well as bringing grief to many close to him.

The ConversationIn other times and circumstances, Joyce might have skated through, little harmed by the scandal. But today the personal can quickly become the political – something Joyce failed to understand.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Advertisements

Fischer calls for quick resolution of Nationals crisis, while Joyce is determined to fight to the death


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Former Nationals deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has added his voice to those pressing for a rapid resolution of the Nationals crisis, as Malcolm Turnbull admits he doesn’t know whether Barnaby Joyce retains his partyroom’s support.

“It has to be resolved quickly,” Fischer told The Conversation. Earlier on Monday another former deputy prime minister, John Anderson, speaking to The Australian, advised Nationals MPs to act swiftly to exercise their responsibility and urged Joyce to think through his situation very carefully.

But the Nationals remained apparently paralysed, with Joyce on leave, dug in and defiant, feedback coming from the party’s grassroots that he should step down as leader, and his support eroding in the officialdom of the party.

Sources in the Joyce camp say there is no way he will step down before Monday’s party meeting.

They say if Michael McCormack – considered favourite to succeed Joyce if he quits or is ousted – wants the job, he will have to challenge in the partyroom and the parliamentary party will have to own the decision it makes.

In face of Monday’s Newspoll, in which 65% said he should stand down, the Joyce sources argue the election is still more than a year away, giving time for the fallout from the current furore to pass.

Nationals federal president Larry Anthony held a phone hook up of party officials late on Monday to take soundings.

McCormack, who is veterans’ affairs minister, on Monday trailed his coat in an awkward Sky interview in which he repeatedly dodged giving backing to Joyce.

Asked multiple times whether Joyce had his support, McCormack avoided answering. “I’m sure that members of the National Party are listening to our constituent,” he said.

“Barnaby Joyce is the leader, there is no spill, there is no vacancy at the moment and certainly Barnaby Joyce will continue to be the leader as long as he gets the support of the National partyroom,” he said. “There is no challenge at the moment.” And there was plenty more of the same.

Finally, a cornered McCormack said: “Of course I support Barnaby Joyce. He is our leader”.

On 3AW, Turnbull was asked whether Joyce was safe as leader. “Are you asking me whether he commands the support of the majority of members of the National Party? … I don’t know. He says he does and others have said he does, but these are all matters in the gift of the National partyroom,” Turnbull said, adding, “a partyroom, I might add, which I have never sought to influence in any way”.

Meanwhile Turnbull is coming under media pressure over precisely what he knew and when about Joyce’s affair with his former staffer, Vikki Campion, his now-pregnant partner.

The timing question has become particularly pertinent since Turnbull’s very personal denunciation of Joyce’s behaviour on Thursday, because the rumours of the affair including the pregnancy had already been rife when Turnbull appeared with Joyce to celebrate the New England byelection win in Tamworth on December 2.

Pressed on when he initially knew about the affair Turnbull repeated that Joyce had “at no time said to me that he was in a sexual relationship with this woman … He never made that admission … to me.”

Turnbull said he couldn’t recall when he first heard a rumour about it.

Asked whether he did not consider asking him, Turnbull was evasive: “I’m not going to go into the private discussions I have had with him, other than to say that at no stage did he say to me that he was having a sexual relationship with this lady”.

Pushed on whether he had been misled, Turnbull said: “I’m not going to go into those discussions”.

Bill Shorten moved to keep all attention on the Coalition by cutting off the government’s attempt to put him in the spotlight because he had not clarified Labor’s position on Turnbull’s ban on ministers having sexual relationships with their staff.

“If we get elected, we’re not going to overturn it,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made it clear she was less-than-impressed with the ban, having condemned any such idea when asked a week before Turnbull announced it. She said the change brought the code in line with many workplaces across Australia. Pressed on her attitude, she said: “I will abide by the ministerial code of conduct”.

Newspoll has found that 64% of voters back the ban.

The ConversationVictorian Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson told Sky the standard should apply in every MP’s office.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Voters tell Barnaby Joyce to quit as leader: Newspoll


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Barnaby Joyce is coming under fresh pressure to stand down with 65% of voters saying he should quit as Nationals leader, in a Newspoll that shows the scandal hitting the government and Malcolm Turnbull.

The two-party vote has the Coalition trailing Labor 47-53%, compared with 48-52% a fortnight ago, halting the improvement the government had at the start of the year. This is the 27th consecutive Newspoll in which the Coalition has been behind Labor.

The poll comes as softer weekend messaging from Turnbull added to the confusion around the crisis, and how it will play out remains uncertain.

Turnbull and the Liberals want to see Joyce step down or be rolled by his party. But Turnbull is treading more carefully now that it is clear the Nationals could take umbrage and dig in behind Joyce if they think the Liberals are trying to dictate to them.

There is an increasing feeling in Nationals circles that Joyce’s position is untenable. The party’s MPs will get electoral feedback this week when parliament is not sitting and they are in their electorates. Joyce is desperately trying to hang onto his job despite the huge political fallout from his affair with his former staffer, now his pregnant partner. He is on a week’s leave.

In the Newspoll published in Monday’s Australian, Turnbull’s better prime minister rating fell five points to 40% and Bill Shorten’s rose two points to 33%, narrowing Turnbull’s lead to seven points. The Coalition’s primary vote declined two points to 36%; Labor remained steady at 37%.

The Australian reports that in the breakdown of voters wanting Joyce gone, 29% say he should step down as Nationals leader but stay in parliament as a backbencher; 15% believe he should step down and not contest the election; and 21% say he should leave politics at once. Only 23% said he should remain in parliament as Nationals leader.

Regional voters were more inclined to say he should go from parliament at once (25%) than city voters (20%). Men were more inclined than women to say he should leave politics immediately (23-20%).

After Turnbull denounced Joyce on Thursday and said the deputy prime minister “has to consider his own position”, followed on Friday by a counterattack from Joyce, the two men met for more than a hour in Turnbull’s Sydney office on Saturday.

On Sunday Turnbull described the talks as “frank and warm, friendly, good, constructive”, and said “of course” he could continue to work with Joyce.

He had not apologised to Joyce – “there was nothing to apologise for”, he said.

Turnbull said it was important “to meet, to work through the various challenges and issues that we face. Now the important thing is Barnaby and I are working closely together as we always have, he’s obviously taking leave coming this week and we look forward to him returning from that at the end of the week.”

He stressed “there are no issues between the Liberal and National Parties at all”.

Speaking on Nine’s 60 Minutes program, Turnbull said of his Thursday remarks: “I think Australians wanted to hear their prime minister’s heartfelt views about these events – they wanted to know what I felt about them. They wanted to hear it from my lips but also from my heart.”

He said he felt the values he expressed and the action he took “would have the overwhelming endorsement of Australians. I felt it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Turnbull said he had discussed with wife Lucy his ban, announced on Thursday, on ministers having sexual relationships with staff and she absolutely agreed with it.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, asked whether it could be “business as usual” if Joyce stayed Nationals leader, said: “It has to be. We’re a professional government.”

Morrison dismissed suggestions that the sex ban would be hard to enforce.

“You set out a standard that says, don’t sleep with your staff”, he told the ABC. “The point of a code is preventative. If you have a code you’re telling people, ‘you do this, understand by doing it, that you’ll be gonski’.”

“Now I’m happy to have a prime minister who’s been prepared to call out a political culture in this country that has been going on for decades, if not generations.”

His message to people who argued “private is private” was “I’m sorry, if you sleep with your staff, it’s not private any more, it’s public, because you’re a minister in a position of responsibility and power over those who work for you”.

The ConversationQueensland Nationals MP George Christensen posted on Facebook: “The bonk ban is bonkers! And it shows that the whole attack on Barnaby Joyce is driven by one thing: sex. As interesting as that topic is, it’s his private life.”

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Welcome to the new (old) moralism: how the media’s coverage of the Joyce affair harks back to the 1950s



File 20180216 131021 qboshf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Barnaby Joyce saga has been an example of ‘shake-the-tree’ journalism at its worst.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Denis Muller, University of Melbourne

The Barnaby Joyce saga has given a great boost to what might be called “shake-the-tree” journalism: you shake the tree by running a sensational story and see what falls out.

The Daily Telegraph’s original public-interest case for publishing the first story of Joyce’s relationship with ex-staffer Vikki Campion was weak when weighed against the privacy intrusions on Joyce, his estranged wife, his daughters, and Campion.

However, that story has resulted in the emergence of three genuine public-interest justifications.

The first is whether Joyce breached the ministerial code of conduct by employing his partner in his office. On this he has prevaricated, saying that his partner was not so employed. Here he was clearly referring to his wife, not Campion. In the circumstances, this was a distinction without a difference.

The second matter of public interest concerns the expenditure of public money on jobs said to have been found for Campion when her presence in Joyce’s office became untenable. Her salary is reported to be about A$190,000.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Turnbull’s excoriation of Joyce has changed the game, but how?


The third is whether the Prime Minister’s Office was informed of this or whether Joyce misled them by omission.

Once the story came out in The Daily Telegraph, the media as a whole piled into a story they had all known about for months. And they have done so with a kind of shamefaced gusto, making up for lost time.

How much better it would have been if someone – anyone – in the Canberra gallery had succeeded in establishing at least one of those substantial public-interest justifications and broken the story framed around that.

Instead, the story that broke was coloured by the salacious moralism beloved of tabloid newspapers since time began.

It featured a large picture of Campion, heavily pregnant, a gross violation of privacy if ever there was one.

The Telegraph breaks the story in a gross violation of privacy.
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Here it was: the fruit of sin. The impregnated mistress, to borrow some of the vulgar moralising language that has disfigured the coverage.

The photo has been defended by The Daily Telegraph’s editor as proving the truth of the story that Barnaby Joyce had got his staffer pregnant. It proves nothing of the sort. It shows a woman pregnant. It says nothing about paternity.

Then on Valentine’s Day, The Daily Telegraph was at it again, this time with a page-one picture taken in 2016 in which Joyce and Campion are sitting next to each other at an official function.

Campion is in the foreground and Joyce, according to the caption, “eyes off” his media adviser. The headline says: “Bad look”.

There are many ways of interpreting this picture and headline. One of them is that Joyce had sexual designs on Campion back then, which from the caption is clearly the main message The Daily Telegraph wished to convey, regardless of truth or context.

The Daily Telegraph’s February 14 splash.
http://www.womensagenda.com.au

But the picture is also about Campion. Although she is oblivious of the glance from Joyce, the reader is given the opportunity to inspect her as the “other woman”: we get a good look at her face, her figure and her legs.

Put the “bad look” headline with that, and the reader is invited to draw negative conclusions about her appearance and her character.

This judgemental tone, redolent with sexual possibilities and consequences, is a throwback to the busybody moralising of the 1950s and 1960s.

Then – before the sexual revolution and the rise of second-wave feminism – it was a staple of middle-class morality to take a gossipy and often hurtful interest in marital breakdowns and pregnancies out of wedlock.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Is Barnaby’s baby a matter of ‘public interest’ or just of interest to the public?


So why is this throwback happening?

Professor Alison Dagnes, a political scientist at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and editor of a textbook on sex scandals in American politics, proposes a theory that goes like this: there is a well-documented loss of trust in institutions, one consequence of which is that the public is inclined to regard all politicians as scumbags.

Digital technology has equipped everyone with a camera and social media has provided everyone with the means of publishing. This has created a competitiveness of unprecedented intensity among media.

Scandals pique everyone’s interest, even among those who are not usually interested in politics. So any scandal that shows politicians to be the scumbags we suspect, guarantees lots of “likes” and “shares” on social media, generating a frenzy in traditional media and opening up the scandal to instant and reiterative public judgements.

This, in turn, adds to public distrust in institutions.

To this theory might be added two more possible factors.

The first is the shift in norms of privacy induced by social media and the ubiquity of mobile phones with cameras. Old understandings of the boundaries between private and public have been obliterated and new ones have not yet taken their place.

The second is people’s sense of entitlement to pass judgement on matters of which they have personal experience: intimate relationships, the primary school curriculum, the quality of driving on the roads. This is not new, but it is a powerful driver of attitudes.

The ConversationDoubtless there are other factors, but whatever they are, Western society does appear to be in the grip of a new moralism, and the tabloid media are adept at making the most of it.

Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Joyce fires broadside at Turnbull, as Coalition crisis deepens


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Barnaby Joyce has lashed out at Malcolm Turnbull, accusing him of “pulling the scab off” Joyce’s personal life and interfering in National Party affairs.

As the crisis within the Coalition over the Joyce affair deepens, Joyce held a news conference to respond to Turnbull’s Thursday denunciation of his personal behaviour.

Turnbull – who has announced a ban on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff – accused Joyce of a “shocking error of judgement” over his affair with his former staffer, Vikki Campion, who is now his pregnant partner.

Turnbull also said Joyce should “consider his own position”, in effect flagging he would like the deputy prime minister to stand down.

Joyce on Friday said Turnbull’s comments were “inept” and “unneccessary”.

“I listened to it and thought that it was completely unnecessary – all that is going to do is basically pull the scab off for everyone to have a look at.”

In regard to the National Party, “there is nothing that we dislike more than implied intervention into the party processes”.

“We are our own independent political unit – we make our own decisions, especially around those who are the office-holders.”

That outside interference “locks people in … behind the leader. So I would not be making comments or implied comments about the leadership of the Liberal Party, and we don’t expect to get implied comments about the leadership of the National Party.”

The plunge in relations between the two leaders is now threatening Coalition unity, with uncertainty about how the situation will play out. While Turnbull is putting pressure on Joyce to go, some Nationals predict it will be counter-productive, as Joyce is saying.

Visiting Tasmania, Turnbull told reporters: “Joyce has my confidence as deputy prime minister”.

But he also said: “Barnaby has been considering his position and I do not think there is any question about that, but I have not called on him to resign. I have not asked him to resign – he has to form his view on his circumstances.

“He has a lot to reflect on given what has happened, and I say again, he has made some big errors of judgement and he acknowledges that.”

Turnbull dodged attempts to pin him down on when he first learned of Joyce’s affair with Campion. “I can’t recall when I first heard rumours but I can say to you that he did not say to me that he was having an affair with this woman – I’m not going to go any further than that.”

Joyce said that he was intending to make sure his relationship with Turnbull “get backs onto an even keel”.

He again made it clear he has no plans to resign.

“My colleagues support me. This was a personal issue – a personal issue that has been dragged into the public arena and I don’t believe that people should be resigning in any job over personal issues.”

Later Friday, Turnbull, obviously alarmed about the increasing fracture between the Coalition partners, told reporters he had not sought in any way to influence the deliberations of the National Party.

“Neither I nor my colleagues have made any criticism of the National party.”

The ConversationHe said criticism of Joyce’s conduct was not criticism of the National Party.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Banning workplace romances won’t solve the problem of sexual misconduct in the office



File 20180215 131021 r5yyev.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Malcolm Turnbull gave several justifications for his ban on ministers having sexual relationships with their staff.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Paula McDonald, Queensland University of Technology

The recent revelation of a sexual relationship between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and a young woman working in his office has created considerable embarrassment for the government and those involved. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded by announcing that sexual relations between ministers and their staff will be prohibited under a change to the ministerial code of conduct.




Read more:
Turnbull announces sex ban – and signals Joyce should consider his position


Turnbull gave several justifications for the ban. These included that although ministers were entitled to privacy in personal matters, they must lead by example because they occupy positions of responsibility and trust.

Recently in the US, sexual relationships between Capitol Hill lawmakers and their staffers were prohibited in response to multiple scandals and in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Inappropriate and unlawful sexual behaviour at work

To judge whether workplace relationship bans are an effective or appropriate response to alleged or actual sexual misconduct, we must first understand the difference between “inappropriate” sexual relationships and unlawful sexual behaviour.

Unlawful sexual conduct includes sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It is not interaction, flirtation or friendship that is mutual or consensual.

In contrast, inappropriate relationships – while not explicitly unlawful – are usually associated with unequal power relationships.




Read more:
What’s the difference between sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape?


Organisational codes of conduct often set out guidelines around the behaviour of supervisors and managers over their subordinates. A power imbalance between two employees may arise due to age, seniority or other factors, such as the capacity to influence outcomes.

The development of a sexual relationship in particular – even if it is apparently consensual – creates the potential for abuse of position, for damage to the less-empowered and potentially vulnerable individual, and for conflicts of interests to arise.

A common requirement in codes of employee conduct is for the person with the greater power to notify their supervisor of the relationship and immediately cease any decision-making role in respect of the subordinate. Such guidelines raise awareness of the potential for workplace relationships that may lead to later problems for those involved, and raise risks for organisational reputation and functioning.

By providing a clear course of action, such codes of conduct also acknowledge that workplace relationships do occur.

In contrast, outright bans on consensual sexual relationships at work are likely to be seen by many employees as over-reaching into their private lives. They may also perceive that it undermines their autonomy and dignity.

Retail fashion chain American Apparel recently introduced a policy barring managers from engaging in romantic relationships with employees over whom they had a perceived or actual influence. The policy also mandated the disclosure of such relationships – not to the person’s supervisor, but the human resources department.

Romantic relationships were defined broadly, and included both casual dating as well as committed relationships.

Public/private boundaries

In recent years, a considerable blurring of public/private boundaries in organisational life has occurred. Examples include the installation and monitoring of CCTV in workplaces, the enforcement of wearable surveillance devices that measure employees’ productivity in real time, and the “profiling” of job applicants through searches for private online information.

These employer actions have reshaped the boundaries between the relatively public sphere of work and the private lives of employees.

Workplace relationship bans may also be impractical and have unintended consequences. Many people meet their future partners at work or engage in short- or long-term consensual relationships that run their course.

The prospects of an employer effectively standing between two adults who are attracted to each other, or who fall in love, and preventing a relationship developing between them, seems slim.

Worse, bans may drive relationships underground. Employees who fear punitive consequences from ignoring a codified directive will likely conduct the relationship in secret. This may obfuscate loyalties and threaten the development of trust among co-workers. Engaging in a secretive relationship when those involved would prefer it was open may also prove stressful.

At its most extreme, regulating workplace relationships may damage women’s careers rather than contribute to them through a raising of professional standards.

Some male executives and senior politicians such as US Vice-President Mike Pence have been said to avoid working with women altogether to avoid being accused of inappropriate behaviour. This constrains opportunities for sensitive and strategic workplace discussions, and holds women back from key advancement opportunities.

Balancing competing interests

Joyce’s case raises several important issues insofar as preventing fall-out when colleagues engage in romantic and/or sexual relationships.

Banning relationships is likely to be ineffective and may result in disengagement, secrecy and resentment by employees of the encroachment of employment policies into genuinely private matters.

Outright bans also imply a connection between sexual misconduct and romantic relationships that is dubious at best. For example, although some sexual harassment cases arise following the breakdown of a former consensual relationship, most do not.

Preventing and redressing sexual harassment and achieving gender equality requires far more nuanced and multi-faceted approaches.

However, relationships of unequal power clearly need to be carefully managed to avoid the harmful consequences that may result for those involved. This can be achieved through carefully crafted and implemented policies and practices that raise awareness among employees of expectations about professional behaviour and where the greatest risks lie.

However, power comes in many forms. And it can only be judged on the basis of the particular circumstances and people involved.

Policies must also be sensitive to balancing the competing interests of employees and employers. This includes employees’ interests in privacy and autonomy, and employer interests in promoting workplace harmony and avoiding reputational damage.

The ConversationResponses need to also acknowledge the reality that relationships between consenting adults are an inevitable and almost certainly enduring feature of many contemporary workplaces. Attempting to ban them is unlikely to be a panacea.

Paula McDonald, Professor of Work and Organisation, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Grattan on Friday: Turnbull’s excoriation of Joyce has changed the game, but how?


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In the most spectacular manner, Malcolm Turnbull has publicly trashed his relationship with Barnaby Joyce.

The results of what one Nationals source described as Turnbull’s “roll of the dice” at Thursday’s extraordinary news conference are unpredictable.

Turnbull gave his deputy prime minister no notice of the swingeing attack he would launch on Joyce’s extramarital affair with his former staffer, Vikki Campion, now his pregnant partner.

Joyce had made a “shocking error of judgement”, Turnbull said, which had “set off a world of woe” for all the women affected and “appalled all of us”.

Turnbull was announcing he was putting a sex ban into the ministerial code of conduct. He’d consulted his colleagues on that. But it was the excoriation of Joyce that came out of the blue, stunning the Nationals.

After a week-and-a-half of political hell, Joyce was already in about as bad a place as one can imagine a politician might be, short of the dock of a courtroom.

Turnbull all but disowned him – as far as a Liberal prime minister can do with the leader of the Coalition’s minor party. It was clear Turnbull would just like Joyce to stand down.

Joyce had already been dispatched on gardening leave for next week, when he was due to be acting prime minister. Turnbull said he had “encouraged” him to take leave.

That in itself said it all. If Joyce is too much of a political handicap to undertake the routine duties of acting prime minister, it is hard to argue he’s up to being deputy prime minister.

Within the Nationals Joyce shored up his position on Wednesday to give himself a chance of rehabilitation. But after Turnbull’s character reference, he might as well wear a sandwich board saying: “I’m a terrible person”.

After days of the opposition and media trawling through the work arrangements for Campion, and the free accommodation in Armidale Joyce got from a local businessman, Turnbull says Joyce has given him “an unequivocal assurance” he hasn’t breached ministerial standards.

With abundant caution Turnbull quotes Joyce’s word, rather than his own judgement, and there’s been no independent assessment.

Maybe Joyce has been within the code. But now Turnbull has made it clear – after initially wanting to keep away from Joyce’s private life – that he believes the Nationals leader has breached decent moral standards and he has decided to call him out on that.

A week ago, Turnbull was describing the Joyce imbroglio as “a deeply personal matter relating to Barnaby Joyce and his family”. On Thursday he radiated absolute disgust at the sordid saga.

Turnbull’s approach went from initially staying solid with Joyce by saying as little as possible to letting him have it with both barrels.

It went from dismissing a proposal from crossbencher Cathy McGowan for a “conversation” about workplace relations in parliament to slapping on a sex ban that doesn’t even exempt a minister who’s single.

What changed? The story had gone from something potentially containable to a cluster bomb damaging the whole government, and presumably feeding into the next Newspoll.

In particular, it threatened a dangerous backlash among women. Turnbull has pitched the ban on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff with a heavy gender emphasis. “Most of the ministers, most of the bosses in this building” were men, he said.

The ban is similar to that recently passed by the US House of Representatives, although that is legislated and this is not.

Remember Julie Bishop’s reaction to the American ban – “we wouldn’t want to cross the line so that the moral police were able to dictate what happens between consenting adults”. Turnbull has put his policeman’s helmet on.

Joyce started Thursday deeply wounded. He ended the day bleeding even more heavily. The stories won’t let up. He faces the firing line again when the House of Representatives resumes the week after next. He’ll also be pursued in Senate estimates.

His office is inundated daily with slews of media questions; he lives with the knowledge that fresh damaging information could destroy him.

Imagine his political life from now. Travelling regional Australia’s back blocks will be downright embarrassing, as he wonders what those women offering cups of tea are thinking.

As well, he’ll be dealing with the demands of his new domestic circumstances – including the glare of publicity around the baby, arriving within weeks – as well as the legacies of leaving his old home life.

The Nationals are in an appalling situation.

They’ve stuck by Joyce – they think he’s the best they’ve got and their default position is loyalty. They’ve given him time. But logically, they should bring forward their assessment of the chances of his getting back on his feet.

Assuming they are slight, the party would be better to face the fact quickly and give a new leader – who’d likely be the little known Michael McCormack, a junior minister – maximum time before the election.

But that’s where Turnbull’s “roll of the dice” comes in. The Nationals this week were prickly about perceived meddling from the Liberals. They don’t like outside interference. How will they react to Turnbull’s assault? Will they dig in further behind Joyce?

And then there’s Joyce himself – stubborn and presumably desperate. He’s not so far shown any sign of giving in under political and personal pressure that would drive most leaders out. He’s relying on being able to keep his grip on the parliamentary numbers.

“He’s not like everyone else – he’s a different cat,” says a colleague.

The ConversationJoyce is fighting like a cornered tiger to hang onto the position he coveted for so long. It’s not clear whether Turnbull’s denunciation has harmed or helped his chances. Or how, in the immediate future, he and Turnbull can work together.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Turnbull announces sex ban – and signals Joyce should consider his position


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has announced that, from now, sexual relations between ministers and their staff will be prohibited under a change he has made to the ministerial code of conduct.

Addressing a news conference late on Thursday, Turnbull also strongly hinted he would like to see Barnaby Joyce step down.

Joyce had made “a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office”. In doing so he had set off a “world of woe” for his wife, daughters and indeed his new partner, and had “appalled all of us”.

When asked why he wouldn’t urge Joyce to resign, Turnbull pointed out that he was leader of the minor party in the Coalition.

But his preference was clear. “Barnaby has acknowledged his fault, his error, his grief about his conduct. He has to consider his own position obviously. These are matters for Barnaby Joyce to reflect on.”

Earlier Turnbull told parliament that when he visits the US next week, Senate leader Mathias Cormann – not Joyce – would be acting prime minister.

Turnbull said the ban on sexual relationships would apply even if the minister was single.

The ban parallels a prohibition last week passed by the US House of Representatives – although that was included in legislation while this is only in the ministerial code, and is only enforceable politically not legally.

It also follows a call by crossbencher Cathy McGowan last week for a “conversation” about conduct between MPs and their staff. Her call was dismissed at the time.

Turnbull said then: “Members of parliament, ministers all have to be accountable for their actions. As grown-ups, we are all accountable for our actions. Relations between consenting adults is not something that normally, you would be justified in, if you like, seeking to regulate.”

But government sources said Turnbull had been working on the sex ban all week.

Turnbull told his news conference the Joyce affair had raised “some very serious issues about the culture of this place, of this parliament”.

He said the present ministerial code was “truly deficient”.

“It does not speak strongly enough for the values that we should all live, values of respect, respectful workplaces – of workplaces where women are respected.”

He said this respect in workplaces was not entirely a gender issue. But “most of the ministers, most of the bosses in this building” were men and “there is a real gender perspective here”.

He said that whatever people might have turned a blind eye to in years past, in 2018 it was not acceptable for a minister to have a sexual relationship with someone who worked for them.

“It’s a very bad workplace practice. And everybody knows that no good comes of it.

The Conversation“Of course you know what attitudes in the corporate world and elsewhere are to this kind of thing. So, it is about time that this change was made. Probably should have been made a long time ago.”

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Barnaby Joyce dumped as acting prime minister next week


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered an effective vote of no-confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, announcing he will not be acting prime minister next week, but instead will go on a week’s leave.

This follows Turnbull telling parliament twice earlier this week that the Nationals leader would act in his place when he visits the US next week.

The acting prime minister will be Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is the government’s Senate leader. Joyce will be on leave for a week from Monday.

The Liberals’ deputy leader, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, would normally be next in line, but she is scheduled to be overseas. She did offer to cancel those arrangements, but that option was not taken up.

On Wednesday Joyce shored up his support within the Nationals to continue as leader, but on Thursday he was seriously on the back foot.

In parliament, the opposition pursued his relations with businessman Greg Maguire, who provided him with an Armidale apartment free of rent for six months, worth a total of about A$12,000.

Joyce said that when his marriage had broken down and he was standing for the New England byelection, Maguire approached him and in the discussion offered the accommodation. He had said he would pay, but this was refused by Maguire, Joyce told parliament. He said “he didn’t have to worry about it because I was a mate.”

Maguire has previously told two journalists that Joyce had made the initial approach.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The opposition also asked about a $5,000 payment made by an agency under Joyce’s then-agriculture portfolio to a Maguire business for a 2016 Agricultural Industry Advisory Council dinner at an Armidale hotel that the businessman owns.

Joyce said he did not know about the payment. “Obviously decisions in the vicinity of $5,000 don’t generally go across the minister’s table.”

The Senate late Thursday passed by 35-29 a Greens-Labor motion calling “on the deputy prime minister to resign from his position … for clearly breaching the standards required of ministers; and if he does not resign, calls on the National Party to sack him as leader.”

The ConversationEarlier, the opposition failed in an attempt to have the House of Representatives call on Turnbull “to immediately sack” Joyce for “clearly breaching the prime minister’s statement of ministerial standards”.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Nationals rally behind Joyce’s leadership but he is on notice


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Barnaby Joyce has secured his colleagues’ backing to hang onto his leadership and Malcolm Turnbull has flagged he will be acting prime minister next week, despite the potential for this to cause further distraction for the government.

Although he is safe for now, Joyce is essentially on notice as leader.

In the short term, he is hostage to any new serious revelations in the media, and in the medium term, to his party’s assessment about whether he has become a political negative, as a result of his affair with his former staffer Vikki Campion, who is expecting his child.

Over the last few days Nationals MPs have been divided between a minority who wanted to force him to quit, his supporters who regard him as the party’s strongest asset, and those uncertain about what should be done.

Joyce is said to be very aware of the hurt in the party and the fact that he has to work to mend the political damage he has caused.

After a week of mounting crisis since the story broke, and intense internal discussions among Nationals MPs and by Joyce with his colleagues, senior Nationals went out in the media on Wednesday to strongly support the status quo.

Joyce’s recently elected deputy, Bridget McKenzie, who had been previously silent, told Sky she’d give “my absolute rolled gold guarantee … that come tomorrow, come Friday, Barnaby Joyce will be leading the National Party”.

Asked what she had to say to the women in the party, she said: “Look, there is an unease I think for all of us, looking at this as a woman.

“But I think we also have to recognise that we are realists. These things happen, in every family, in every town, in every workplace, across the country. It’s whether it impacts on his ability to deliver …

“So yes, there may be a bit of uncomfortableness around his personal life at the moment, but in terms of delivering, what does a woman want out of her parliamentarians and politicians? She wants us to come up here and work our backsides off delivering for them and for her family. That’s what he does.”

Nationals whip Michelle Landry said: “Barnaby will remain our leader. He has done a lot for us, particularly in regional Australia and I think we should give him a fair go with it.”

David Littleproud, promoted by Joyce to cabinet in December, said Joyce would continue to have the support of the Nationals’ partyroom.

In parliament, Bill Shorten asked Turnbull whether he still retained confidence in Joyce and “when the prime minister is overseas next week, will the deputy prime minister be the acting prime minister of Australia?”

Turnbull was as brief as he was previously, when he answered both questions with a yes. “You asked me earlier in the week, and the answer is the same as it was earlier in the week,” he said.

Some Liberals have been unhappy at the prospect of Joyce being acting prime minister when Turnbull visits the US, believing he will be pursued by the media, creating more bad publicity.

But not to have him acting prime minister would amount to a vote of no confidence in him.

The opposition pursued Joyce’s accommodation arrangements in his New England electorate where businessman Greg Maguire, his friend, provided him with six months’ free accommodation, worth some A$12,000, in an Armidale townhouse.

Labor plans to delve into the staffing arrangements made for Campion when Senate estimates are held the week after next.

After 24 hours in Canberra calming the troops, the Nationals’ federal president Larry Anthony said: “I think the vast majority of the parliamentary team are supportive of Barnaby.”

The ConversationHe said it was now important that the Nationals MPs “get back into their constituencies over the next week – people want to see them working and supporting their communities”.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.