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Lisa Wilkinson: Barnaby Wants Privacy, Just As Long As It's His

One of the Twitterati put it brilliantly...

Clearly, he doesn't, and so continues to dig a hole ever-deeper for himself and, sadly, for both of his families.

First we had the extraordinary hypocrisy displayed by our erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister, and his fierce insistence on his right to privacy, before going right ahead and selling that same privacy to the highest bidder – Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program.

The subsequent stink was perfectly captured by a cartoon in The Australian, which saw Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion walking along, pushing a pram, before Ms Campion says to the father of her child: “Either that’s your political career, or somebody’s nappy needs changing”.

I think it’s his political career.

For, even as inured as we have become to the ever-greater heights of this man’s hypocrisy, the events of this last week take my breath away.

It began with the footage released by Mr Joyce himself, last Sunday morning. Coming out of a church, he had been confronted by a photographer seeking to take snaps, at which point something seems to break in Barnaby. For all of a minute he harasses the photographer, in turn demanding to know his name and who he works for, even as the clearly shaken photographer alleges that Mr Joyce had shaped up to throw a punch at him.

As one who has had my own issues with papparazzi in recent times, I can understand more than most Mr Joyce’s distress at having his picture taken against his will, even if no-one has ever alleged I was looking to punch them.

But what truly leaves me gobsmacked was Barnaby’s continued insistence that the law should be changed to protect Ms Campion’s privacy.

“For private individuals,” he told the breakfast show Sunrise, “I think they deserve a greater protection so that they can live their lives un-interfered and not be harassed...”

This was along with his previous insistence that “we need a tort of privacy", presumably so important people like him won’t have to be harassed by strangers.

Barnaby Joyce and partner Vikki Campion, speak to Channel 7's Sunday Night. (Image: AAP Video/Supplied/Channel 7)

But what if you’re neither famous, nor powerful, Barnaby?

What if, quite the reverse, you are feeling as powerless and vulnerable as you’ve ever felt in your life and, far from being famous, you are desperately hoping that no-one will recognise you at all?

What if your desire is to just sink into the pavement in your anonymity because circumstances had dealt you a card you never saw coming? Are you any chance then of being protected by Barnaby Joyce, standing before your harassers, and saying you have a right to privacy?

Not if you are a woman in NSW seeking to terminate your pregnancy.

For, just last week, as the NSW government was about to pass legislation to introduce 150-Metre safe zones around abortion clinics – whereby protesters, zealots and self-appointed “kerbside counsellors” would no longer be free to harass women and seek to change their minds – who was on the phone seeking to lobby the State MPs to vote against the law?

Why, yes, of course – Barnaby Joyce.

In this instant, according to Barnaby, privacy be damned.

Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in Canberra, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Image: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

This is not okay. And his hypocrisy on the whole issue is not even remotely amusing.

It is simply outrageous.

I dare say there is not one of us who hasn’t had a close friend or family member who has had to, for whatever reason, terminate a pregnancy. Or perhaps we’ve had one ourselves, and we all know something of the agony of the decision, the haunting doubts, the deeply personal nature of all that goes with it.

There are many fine and sincere people who argue for the right to life, and they are free to make their points in the public domain. But I entirely applaud the government of Gladys Berejiklian for insisting that when women are to the point of going to those clinics, they really do have a right to be free from harassment, and to have their privacy respected.

And it is like Barnaby Joyce’s damn hide to say he and his have a right to privacy and be free from harassment when coming out of church, but such women at possibly the most vulnerable moment of their lives, don’t.

Put a sock in it, Barnaby.

Main image: AAP