Barnaby Joyce affair, pregnancy could hurt Nationals party membership numbers

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

It remains to be seen how much blow back – if any – the Nationals will cop, as the news of Deputy Prime Minister and party leader Barnaby Joyce's affair with a former staffer comes to light.

There are fears within the party that the affair and subsequent pregnancy could put a major dent in its support, given the conservative nature of its heartland, and there are concerns the party’s membership numbers could drop.

Many have pointed to the hypocritical nature of Mr Joyce's personal situation – the Deputy Prime Minister has famously aired his traditional family values during his election campaigns and also throughout the same-sex marriage debate, although he refused to take part in the final vote.

Now the National party has closed ranks around its leader.

The Northern Daily Leader contacted both NSW Nationals chair Bede Burke and New England branch chair Russell Webb, however they both declined to comment, citing personal and family reasons.

Politicians on the other side of the fence also declined to be drawn into the debate.

"It's something I view as none of my business," Labor frontbencher Tony Burke told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"This ricochets and affects families. There's a principle here that I've always abided by to not engage in anything that hits the private lives of other members of parliament."

Greens MP Adam Bandt agreed, describing the prominent media coverage as a 'very dark day' for gender equality.

"I don't really care who Barnaby Joyce or anyone else is sleeping with," he told Sky News.

“Unless it impacts on his job, or unless she chooses voluntarily to step into the public eye, it's not really anyone's business.

“If it’s Barnaby Joyce's partner today, who else's will it be tomorrow?”

Mr Joyce has been separated from his wife Natalie since October 2017. 

Mrs Joyce, who is also a long-standing Nationals member, released a statement, requesting privacy and respect at this difficult time.

“For my girls who are affected by the family breakdown and for me as a wife of 24 years, who placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life.

“Our family life has had to be shared during Barnaby’s political career and it was with trust that we let campaign and office staff into our homes and into our lives.  

“Naturally we also feel deceived and hurt by the actions of Barnaby and the staff member involved."

This story Nationals fear party membership could take hit with Barnaby Joyce affair first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.