I have a book running at work on how long the Barna-baby scandal will stay in the news. Having previously worked in politics and knowing first-hand the amount of work-related shagging that goes on, this story came as absolutely no surprise to me. The only thing that did surprise me was the fact a story like this hadn’t broken sooner given how much of it goes on.
Many of these relationships are open secrets in the Corridors of Power. For those of you who have never had the experience, these can be very heady environments. Crazy long hours in the close confines of your colleagues and as already suggested by numerous columnists and commentators, power can be very attractive to some people. Even when those people look like an angry tomato. Sorry Barnaby.
What did shock the shit out of me though is that the Prime Minister Malcolm (the ole Silver Fox) Turnbull thought he could impose a bonking ban. REALLY Malcolm? In this day and age? That’s like asking people not to get pissed and behave like a tit at the office Christmas party. You can send all the emails you want about “appropriate behaviour” and rest assured most people will ignore it. Making it a sackable offence would leave a total of maybe eight people running the country, so that’s not going to work either. SIDEBAR: Tim Worner – perhaps don’t go into politics. Malcolm may not be as forgiving as Kerry Stokes.
This doesn’t happen in France by the way. Remember when Prime Minister Françoise Hollande left his partner for his younger mistress? A seven page story with photos ran in a glossy magazine busting them! People barely batted an eyelid – it was more of shrug and a ‘C’est la vie’.
Don’t get me wrong – my heart breaks for Natalie Joyce and her daughters. It’s bad enough when a relationship breakdowns in any situation but to have it play out in public the way it has is awful. But is imposing moral judgements on our politicians the way to go? Given the spectrum of what people find acceptable, how would that even work? Who decides what is acceptable anyway? How would they be selected? It’s too complicated and quite frankly too dictatorial for my taste.
Back to the bonking ban. I have had a thought on one way of enforcing it. Send my Mum to Canberra.
You think I’m joking but I’m not. This is the woman who, before we (Bernard children) had parties at our house with frisky teenagers, would hose down the lawns. Saturate them. There’s no hiding wringing wet clothes people. Genius idea. AND it worked. She also had heat and movement sensors installed when I started sneaking out of the house. The place would light up like the Palace of Versailles if a cat ran past. You may also remember from an earlier column Dear Readers what an effective Enforcer she was when she came on Schoolies Week with me. Good Times.
It’s interesting that as this story of Barnaby Joyce and new partner continues to unfold there was an excellent documentary on the ABC for the last two Sunday nights about Bob Hawke. Drinker, womaniser, brilliant orator, larrikin and great political leader. John Howard even popped at one stage saying there was no denying that Bob Hawke was the best Labor Prime Minister Australia ever had. But the point that nearly everyone made was that he’d never get away with his behaviour now. It would kill his career.
Interestingly I have also worked in places where work relationships were frowned upon. Not banned but certainly not encouraged. A friend of mine was in a relationship with a work colleague but they kept it secret for over a year! Their wedding was a bit of a give-away though…
So what is the answer to this conundrum? Pin a scarlet letter on people? I don’t know but I’m sure outlawing work place relationships isn’t the way to go. Any suggestions? Let us know at She Society.