The big question no-one asked about Barnaby Joyce

Catching up with a friend over the weekend, the topic turned to Barnaby Joyce. Astonishingly, she had not heard of his recent headline-making affair.

“Have you been living under a rock?!” I exclaimed, incredulous that she’d been able to escape the news.

I filled her in about our Deputy PM’s love tryst with his now heavily pregnant, 33-year-old former employee. Their relationship – and the media’s reporting of it – has been debated to death in the last week, with all sorts of issues to do with betrayal, hypocrisy, abuse of power and nepotism coming in to play. He may even lose his career over the scandal.


So I was surprised when, at the end of my update, my friend jokingly made a comment – one that was so ridiculously on point, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself.

“He’s the deputy prime minister – if he’s going to have a newborn soon, how is he possibly going to juggle his responsibilities of being a parent to a new baby, alongside his responsibilities as a political leader of the country?” she asked.

Fair question, right?

When New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinta Arden announced her pregnancy last month, everyone had an opinion about her supposed ‘ability’ to continue on in her political role, so soon after becoming a new mum.

“I’m just pregnant, not incapacitated,” she said at the time. “Like everyone else who has found themselves pregnant before, I’m just keeping on going.”

Obviously, a new mother’s role can be more demanding than a new dad’s. She will have to physically recover from the pregnancy and labour, as well as deal with the hormonal after-effects.

But both households will still have to cope with the middle of the night feeds, the crying, the constant nappy changes, the overall sleep deprivation, distraction and exhaustion.

And yet… Female political leader to welcome a new baby – the world is up in arms.

Male political leader to welcome a new baby – no-one bats an eyelid.

The double standard is quite astounding, isn’t it?