Barnaby Joyce’s affair with a staffer needed to be made public

Barnaby Joyce’s affair with a staffer needed to be made public, by Caroline Overington.

As everyone knows, one of our key [Australian federal] politicians — the ruddy-faced Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce — has been playing an away game. A young woman once ­employed by him — and therefore by you, since we all pick up the tab — is expecting a baby, his fifth.

Joyce has separated from his wife, Natalie, and has moved out of the home he shared with his four daughters. …

Who knows what led him to this point? Maybe this is a midlife crisis. Maybe it’s something worse than that: maybe he’s an ego on legs, drunk on power and indeed on ­alcohol, who thought he could have his cake and eat it too. Maybe he really did just fall in love.

The question this week has been how much we — the poor punters paying the bills while all this goes on — needed to know about what he was doing after the lights went out.

Some journalists, mainly from Canberra, have been arguing for silence on the matter, which is curious. Uncovering is what they’re meant to do. The logic of their argument, as far as it could be followed, was that affairs between politicians and their staff — or journalists — are “private” or else “not in the public interest”.

That may be right at times, perhaps even most of the time, but not in this case.

Joyce is a key member of Malcolm Turnbull’s team. He spent much of last year campaigning against same-sex marriage — which is to say, pontificating on the sexual and human rights of others. Also last year he was declared a dual citizen and had to fight to ­regain the seat of New England, which the Turnbull government needed to hold because it only has a one-seat majority. He has long campaigned as a conservative family man with traditional values. His wife Natalie and his four daughters featured in a magazine spread in this very newspaper ahead of polling day.

Joyce is now expecting a baby with Vikki Campion, 33, a former News Corp journalist who started working as his media adviser in 2016. …

Until this week, even through his recent by-election in December, nobody in the media reported it.

Summer came and went but the story wasn’t going anywhere. How could it? Campion was pregnant. At some point, Barnaby would be spotted, as the Telegraph’s editor, Chris Dore, so nimbly put it this week, pushing a pram around Lake Burley Griffin.

Was the press gallery going to ignore that, too?

Incredibly, there are still some people who think Markson should have left the yarn alone. But by far the most vocal group in the wake of this story breaking is the one that can’t believe the information was kept from them, especially ahead of the by-election.

Nobody wants to be kept in the dark and fed manure, not by the politicians and especially not by the media, whose business is not to decide but to report. Add to that the group that feels intense anger on behalf of Natalie Joyce, who has declared herself devastated …