Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been caught seemingly unaware of the furore over his Government’s release of private information, in what the Opposition is describing as “a total disaster” of a media interview.
The Australian Federal Police has been asked to investigate Social Services Minister Alan Tudge who authorised the leak of blogger Andie Fox’s personal and protected Centrelink details in response to a story she wrote.
The Government is also pushing for new powers that would allow it to release a veteran’s personal information, should it wish to correct public statements.
When asked by The Project panellists Waleed Aly and Gorgi Coghlan about whether it was appropriate for the Government to release private information, Mr Joyce appeared confused.
“If someone has broken the law, then I suppose that in that instance then it’s basically, it’s going to be investigated,” he said as the hosts looked puzzled.
“No-one should be leaking for malicious purposes information … especially if it’s information that’s been given privately.”
His comments are at odds with the Department of Human Services which has defended releasing the information to a journalist, insisting it was proportionate and legal.
The hosts repeatedly pushed Mr Joyce to discuss the privacy concerns, but he instead kept talking about the department’s controversial debt recovery program.
“You should get the Agriculture Minister on to talk about agriculture not veterans affairs,” he said.
“No, we want to talk to the deputy Prime Minister about the government, I think that’s probably fair,” Aly responded.
“I know but mate it would help if you actually called me before to tell me you wanted to talk about this. I heard about this discussion as I went from the Senate down to here I mean, fair go, really and truly guys.”
“Barnaby we did speak to Jake, that’s the message I’m getting from my producers,” Coghlan interjected, referring to one of Mr Joyce’s advisors, before the interview ended abruptly.
A video of the interview was shared to The Project‘s official Twitter account but swiftly deleted.
“It was a train wreck of an interview,” Labor’s Sam Dastyari said.
“How does the Deputy Prime Minister go on television without knowing the major issues facing the nation?”
“It was painful to watch but nonetheless captivating. A total disaster.”
Mr Joyce’s office says it was told the interview would be about the issues of the week, and not just about privacy concerns.
— Joanne Cleary (@politijo) March 3, 2017