Feb 16, 2018

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject: Barnaby Joyce

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the show. What a week in politics. Barnaby Joyce surviving, but just. A new man about to take temporary charge of the country and this extraordinary announcement from a clearly rattled PM about his ministers having sexual relations with their staff. Take a look.

MALCOLM TURNBULL [CLIP] : Barnaby made a shocking error of judgment in having an affair with a young woman working in his office. In doing so, he has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us.

STEFANOVIC: Wow. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Morning, gentlemen.



STEFANOVIC: Christopher to you, first of all. What took the PM so long?

PYNE: I don’t think that’s fair. The Prime Minister made a very, very clear statement yesterday of leadership where he indicated to the women of Australia in particular, and the women who work for us in Parliament – because sadly still the majority of people in Parliament are still blokes – that we respect them, that they should be treated with respect in the workplace and that people who are their bosses effectively in the Cabinet etcetera¬†should not have sexual relations with them in the office.

STEFANOVIC: The Prime Minister knew about this affair last year. He knew about it before the by-election and he chose to turn a blind eye. Why was he moralising yesterday and not then?

PYNE: Look, Karl, I wouldn’t categorise it that way.

STEFANOVIC: How would you categorise it? He knew about it last year and said nothing. He turned a blind eye. What happened yesterday?

PYNE: No, I don’t think that’s true. I think the truth is that nobody wants to interfere in the private relationships of anyone.

STEFANOVIC: He did yesterday. What’s the difference?

PYNE: Yesterday he made it very, very clear that he is not going to tolerate people having sex within the office.

STEFANOVIC: He knew about it last year. There’s no difference. You either believed it last year or you moved forward and you said no. But he knew about it last year did nothing about it. And yesterday he got on his pulpit and moralised.

PYNE: So you think he did the wrong thing yesterday, do you Karl?

STEFANOVIC: It’s not up to me to judge what the Prime Minister does. But you have to be consistent. And if he believed that was wrong, he should have said something last year.

PYNE: Well I think he’s done the right thing yesterday. I think he’s shown the leadership that is required of the Prime Minister. It’s one of the reasons we respect Malcolm Turnbull. What Barnaby Joyce…

STEFANOVIC: It was a PR stunt yesterday.

PYNE: No, it wasn’t, and what Barnaby Joyce has been doing in his private life nobody wants to pry into, but sadly…

STEFANOVIC: But he just did. The Prime Minister just did that yesterday and judged.

PYNE: No, but – what happened this last week is that the private became the public. And of course that has not been good for the Government, good for the Joyce family, good for Barnaby or good for his new partner and the Prime Minister made that very clear. The Ministerial Code of Conduct will be changed and I assume Bill Shorten will apply the same rules to the frontbench of the Labor Party.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, will you apply the same rules, Anthony?

ALBANESE: The Ministerial Code of Conduct is now in shreds. The fact is that it’s been ignored by Barnaby Joyce. The fact is that taxpayers funds have been misused. The fact is that Parliament has been misled. I’ve been the Deputy Prime Minister. The first job that you have to do is to deputise for the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister is away. Barnaby Joyce can’t do that job. Next week Barnaby Joyce goes on leave. He should just leave.

STEFANOVIC: This time last week you thought this was all going to blow over, Chris under the cover of privacy. You got that wrong. How will this on a practical sense be enforced? How would it prosecuted in the corridors of power?

PYNE: Well I’m not the policemen of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, Karl. I think what the Prime Minister has indicated for Ministers in the future is a modern workplace requirement which is that sex in the workplace is not good practice, will be have to be spelled out in the Code and I think that’s very sad.

STEFANOVIC: Isn’t that already spelled out?

ALBANESE: Common sense tells you that employers should not sleep with their employees. That’s common sense. What we’ve got here is a huge distraction.

STEFANOVIC: So why does he need to do that? Why does he need to do it then? Why does he need to alter it? He doesn’t trust Ministers.

PYNE: Well clearly, it did need to be spelt out in the Code which is of course incredibly disappointing.

STEFANOVIC: But you knew it.

PYNE: It is very disappointing for all of us that this has had to be spelled out in the Code but obviously, in the last week it’s become more and apparent that what was common sense has been breached. In the modern workplace, sex within the workplace is verboten. Sadly, that has to be spelled out.

ALBANESE: The Code has been breached, and the Prime Minister yesterday gave an extraordinarily strong statement against his own Deputy and he put his hand up and said ‘I’m the Prime Minister. I think the Deputy Prime Minister is hopeless. He should reconsider his position. He’s breached the Standards, but I can’t do anything about it’. This is a weak Prime Minister who is not in charge of his own show, let alone the country.
STEFANOVIC: So you don’t support a sex ban in Parliament?

ALBANESE: No employer, whether in Parliament or anywhere else, Channel Nine, anywhere else, should be sleeping with their employees. Common sense tells you that.

STEFANOVIC: So no change to the laws as far as you’re concerned?

ALBANESE: These aren’t changes to laws. These are changes to Ministerial Standards.

STEFANOVIC: So you’re saying no change needed?

ALBANESE: I’ve got no problem with any any change here. But the issue is that this is a distraction. The Ministerial Code has been breached by the Deputy Prime Minister. Everyone knows it, and the Prime Minister has been unable to act against him and remove him from his position because what we see is that the National Party are incapable of exercising any authority over themselves and the Prime Minister is incapable of acting here.

STEFANOVIC: It was odd behavior from the Prime Minister Yesterday, given that he knew about the affair last year, given what he knew about it before the by-election. How can you even justify that?

PYNE: Karl, It’s completely the opposite and I’m quite surprised that you would have taken the tact that you have. What Malcolm did yesterday was show real Prime Ministerial leadership and that’s what most of the media have taken.

STEFANOVIC: Why didn’t he do it last year? He knew about it last year. Why wouldn’t you do it last year?

PYNE: It was a private matter last year, Karl, but it has spilled out into the public, humiliating Natalie Joyce and their daughters; humiliating Barnaby and Ms Campion; we are in a completely different situation this week than we were three or four months ago and everyone can see that. What Malcolm has done yesterday is show the leadership that you would expect of someone of Malcolm Turnbull’s calibre.


PYNE: And I assume Bill Shorten will apply the same rules to his own frontbench.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, tough to put that all on you, but we appreciate you showing up as always.

PYNE: It’s always a pleasure.

ALBANESE: I thought he might take leave.

STEFANOVIC: That’s a cheap shot.

ALBANESE: That would have been very sensible.

PYNE: Another cheap shot. I’m so used to them these days.

STEFANOVIC: But thank you guys, have a good weekend.