POLLIE IN HOT WATER: Rex Pilbeam made headlines when his mistress shot him in 1953.  Here he is pictured at the Rockhampton races.
POLLIE IN HOT WATER: Rex Pilbeam made headlines when his mistress shot him in 1953. Here he is pictured at the Rockhampton races. Morning Bulletin Archives

Schwarten: Barnaby, this is how you handle a scandal

MORE than 60 years ago RexPilbeam, relatively new to the job as Rockhampton mayor, made national headlines by getting shot by his spurned mistress.

After recovering from the bullet wound he made peace with God via his local church and resigned as mayor, immediately renominating and winning with an increased majority.

He would later become elected as a Liberal MP for the city for 12 years and stay on as mayor until beaten by Labor's Jim Webber in 1983.

That was in less forgiving times when young newlyweds had their marriage date marked on calendars by puritanical busybodies hoping to catch them out as "having to get married".

Other options of abandoning a baby to adoption or, worse still, illegal abortion were taken, such was the shame of bearing an illegitimate child.

Thankfully these more liberated times mean no one cares about children conceived, much less born out of wedlock and I once attended a happy Catholic service where a divorcee was married and their child christened at the same time.

So why is it that 70 per cent of Australians think Barnaby Joyce should kick the deputy leader bucket over claims arguably less sinister than Pilly's?

After all, Barnaby has stuck by his mistress and there's no smoking gun.

The answer is that Barnaby and his mates kept their mouths shut over the issue that seems to have been common gossip.

Why?

 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING MICK TSIKAS

Because they feared he would lose the by-election he inflicted on himself and his party by stupidly not observing the constitution.

Given his wife and daughters were resident in the electorate and his predecessor Windsor hates him, it is impossible to believe it was not an undercurrent issue in the election.

That's leaving aside his hypocritical lectures about marriage being about love, honour, respect and no gays allowed.

Also forget about the ABC series where he opened up his family to the cameras as being his fundamental reason for entering politics and his gratitude for them - he's not the first pollie to exploit his family in such a way.

He won't be the last to rabbit on about family values and God in the same sentence either.

In reality it was the cover-up and the dishonesty that has put him in the cross hairs of public derision.

Had he outed himself, owned his problem and shared it I reckon he would have skated through.

After all, nearly half our marriages fail and there's a lot more people who've done what he did in defiance of the bible than are prepared to own up to it.

No, he broke his own mould as being a straight shooter.

He was not upfront and honest with his electors.

He allowed the opposition to justifiably pry into taxpayer expenses for his now-partner, who was on the public payroll.

Not only did he shoot himself in the foot but also our local senator, Matt Canavan, who was forced to explain why this woman was promoted onto his staff.

Had Joyce explained that she was part of National Party staff and could work in other offices it would have been different.

He also lied to the Prime Minister as it is reported he told him the affair was over.

Joyce compounded the problem by publicly apologising to his wife and kids but also in the same breath to his partner, who most people I know think is just as much to blame for the affair as he is.

Talk about pouring salt into wounds.

His defence was it was a private matter yet he was the one who continued to talk about it, a journalist's delight.

Now he's claiming, as are others, that he is being bullied by the media.

He's being bullied by his own mouth. If it is private then shut up.

Turnbull made it worse by claiming to be acting on behalf of all Australians and condemning Joyce.

Just to put more petrol on the fire, Joyce retaliated.

I can't recall more own goals being scored on the political football field and the polls show it.

It was the last thing Turnbull needs as he approaches the 30-lost-polls-in-a-row benchmark he set for Abbott.

In nearly 30 years in politics I have never been involved in dredging up my opponents' personal lives despite having many opportunities to do so.

The National Party, however, had a field day with me over the Labor Day brawl 20 years ago.

Not so the member for Gregory at the time.

He sought me out and shook my hand and said, "Brother, it's your business and I won't have a bar of a witch hunt."

Vaughan and I have beengreat mates since wefirst met when elected back in 1989.

Decency is a great bond.

Joyce has driven every nail into the bed he now lies in, no one cares about what he does in his private life and neither should they.

Turnbull will be issuing chastity belts and so on to ministerial staff instead of running the country.

No wonder voters are turned off.



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