Barnaby Joyce has always been a politician that polarises public opinion and it seems that, in this latest chapter of his career and life, he is staying true to that.
This morning, Mr Joyce made a statement to the media in which he publicly apologised to his wife, Natalie, his four daughters and his new partner, Vikki Campion, for the hurt this whole sorry saga had caused them.
He also denied some rather murky claims reported in several newspapers that morning that there had been an ‘incident’ at a public function some six years prior and reserved his legal rights with respect to the allegations.
Here’s part of his statement:
“I would like to say to Natalie how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt this has caused.
To my girls, how deeply sorry I am for all the hurt that it has caused them, to Vikki Campion, how deeply sorry I am that she has been dragged into this.
“I world like to also say to my supporters and people in my electorate how deeply sorry I am that this personal issue - deeply personal issue - has gone into the public arena. I am very aware of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
“It is without a shadow of a doubt that Vikki Campion is my partner now.
“But when she worked in my office, she was not my partner. When she worked in Matt Canavan's office, she was not my partner. And Damian Drum was not a minister.
I think this is vitally important in how we differentiate between the public and the private. Thank you.”
Many will now be asking why Mr Joyce didn’t get the apology over with days ago.
Sure, some will argue he has nothing to apologise for, that it is his private life and it should be left alone.
But most of us expect more from the deputy Prime Minister.
After all, it is the second-most senior officer in the government of Australia and it is right that we demand high standards, both in public and private life, of those who hold such positions.
Many conservative voters have said they feel ‘disappointed’ by the revelations, having believed Mr Joyce to be a man of his word.
It was certainly a political image Mr Joyce worked hard to cultivate.
Even when he blundered he was portrayed as a man who spoke his mind, someone who told the truth and cut through the political spin.
Perhaps those people simply wanted Mr Joyce to say sorry and admit he’d not upheld people’s expectations so we can all move on.