Barnaby Joyce has fired up while speaking about the conflict between media and a right to privacy on Q&A Monday night
The former deputy prime minister reflected on the experience he and his partner, Vikki Campion, have had with the media in recent years after their relationship was exposed in the press.
One of the questions put to the panel asked how the line is drawn in the media between the public’s right to know and a person’s right to privacy.
Mr Joyce claimed it is an “easy” line to draw, saying it all depends if someone works in a job where they are in the public eye or not.
“I’m in the public, I’m paid for a job – but if a person is an individual that is not paid, then it is not in the public interest,” he said.
“It’s all very well to say it’s a fine line. It’s not.”
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Fellow panelist Niki Savva, who is an Australian political journalist, said there were regular disagreements between the media and politicians about what should and shouldn’t be published.
She suggested Mr Joyce was taking the question “a little bit personally”, sparking a heated response from the former deputy PM.
“I’m not, Niki, I’m just saying the bleeding obvious. I’m a public figure. Go after me. You’re allowed to do that,” Mr Joyce said.
“But if you are just a private individual who is not actually paid for a public job and you think you can flog a newspaper by sticking them on the front page, you’re having yourself on if you think I’m more righteous than others.
“I’m going to call it out because I don’t care, that’s all in the past what happened to me. I don’t want that to happen to somebody in the future.”
Mr Joyce was speaking in reference to a picture published on the front page of The Daily Telegraph in 2018 of his former media adviser – now partner – Ms Campion, who was heavily pregnant with their first child at the time.
“It’s not about me, it’s about a private individual walking across the road. You take a photo of a pregnant woman walking across a road, put it on the front page and give yourself a Walkley. Come on,” he said.
The picture and accompanying story revealed the pair were having a child together, with the news coming out just months after Mr Joyce confirmed the breakdown of his 24-year marriage to his now ex-wife.
The publication went on to win a Walkley Award for the ‘Bundle of Joyce’ article for the Scoop of the Year category.
Mr Joyce faced intense scrutiny after the picture was published, particularly over the fact he used “family values” as one of his reasons for being a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.
When asked on Q&A if the fact that he had campaigned on family values meant it was acceptable for this part of his private life to be in the media, he reiterated that he should be the one targeted, not his partner.
“It’s not about me, I’m a public figure. You put yourself out as a public figure,” Mr Joyce said.
“But if I went after your partner or you had a partner and I decided that was a good yarn, I think that person has a right to privacy.”
Journalist Sharri Markson, who broke the story, later defended publishing it as in the public interest despite it making her feel “uncomfortable.”
“Look there’s no question when I first saw the photograph and my editor as well — you feel a bit uncomfortable. It is an uncomfortable thing to take a photograph of a seven-month pregnant lady,” Markson told The Australian’s Behind The Media podcast.
“But the news isn’t always comfortable. That was a news photograph, it told the story and the story was in the public interest.”
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