Deputy Prime Minister and same-sex marriage opponent Barnaby Joyce has been branded a “hypocrite” after media reports of an affair with an ex-staffer.
According to News Corp’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Joyce had an affair with his former press secretary and the couple are expecting a child together.
Joyce strongly opposed same-sex marriage during last year’s public debate, and veteran marriage equality campaigner Rodney Croome slammed the Nationals MP on Wednesday.
“The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, vehemently opposed allowing LGBTI Australians to marry in the name of ‘traditional marriage’, to the point of insisting the entire nation vote on it,” Croome said.
“But at the same time, he broke his own vow of lifelong commitment to his wife and conceived a child out of wedlock with another woman.
“Put simply, Barnaby Joyce is a hypocrite who thinks he is exempt from the standards he imposes on others.
“To all those who say that is ‘a personal and private matter’ for Joyce alone, I say you can’t put the lives of tens of thousands of your fellow citizens under the microscope and then expect to avoid scrutiny yourself.
“The only silver lining is that he has exposed what ‘traditional marriage’ really means for people like him.
“It is not a set of standards for heterosexual couples to live up to. It is a euphemism for prejudice against LGBTI people and our exclusion from the core institutions of society.”
A spokesperson for Joyce told the ABC, “Private lives are just that: private.”
Joyce’s electorate of New England returned a majority “yes” vote in last year’s postal survey, but he left the parliamentary chamber and abstained from the legislation’s final vote in December.
In December Joyce told the federal parliament, “Marriage is a special relationship between a man and a woman, predominantly for the purpose of bringing children into the world.
“I don’t come to this debate pretending to be any form of saint, but I do believe in the current definition of marriage which has stood the test of time. Half of them fail, I acknowledge that.
“I’m happy to acknowledge that I’m currently separated, so that’s on the record.”
He told Fairfax Media after the vote, “I have always said I wouldn’t vote against the wishes of Australians and I didn’t – that’s why I abstained from the vote given I do not support a change in the definition of marriage.
“I was proud to be a part of a policy that gave every New England voter a say. My vote was worth exactly the same as your vote and my neighbour’s vote.”
The Daily Telegraph’s controversial front page, which featured a paparazzi photo of Joyce’s visibly pregnant partner, has been condemned by Joyce’s parliamentary colleagues who called for his and his family’s privacy to be respected.
Nationals MP Darren Chester said the “issues that have been canvassed in the media today have nothing to do with his performance as leader of the National Party and I believe that private matters should remain private.”
Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Joyce’s “personal situation is none of my business and, with respect, it’s none of anybody else’s business.”
“In terms of his personal life, I wish him nothing but the best, and his family nothing but the best,” he said.
Greens MP Adam Bandt described the Daily Telegraph’s front page as “despicable”.
“I’m no fan of Barnaby, and he’s arguably fair game for opposing equal marriage on the basis of ‘family values’ and putting the LGBTI community through the wringer while leading a different life himself, but leave [his partner] out of it,” he said.