News People The question no one is asking Barnaby Joyce but should be

The question no one is asking Barnaby Joyce but should be

barnaby joyce
Barnaby Joyce with his daughter Caroline, 17, at his swearing in as Deputy Prime Minister. Photo: Facebook/Barnaby Joyce
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As Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion – who is pregnant with his child – raises doubt over his political future, there is one line of inquiry no one seems to be pursuing.

How is he going to balance raising a newborn baby with his career?

It’s a question that was directed countless times at New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she announced she was four months pregnant only three months into the position.

Telling the world on January 19 she is expecting her first baby, Ms Ardern anticipated being asked whether being a new mum would impact her job, and volunteered that she’ll be taking six weeks’ maternity leave.

Later that day, she was asked directly what she would say to “people who might question whether you will be able to juggle being a new mother and being Prime Minister”.

Her reply? “That I don’t underestimate, of course, that it will take work, but, as I say, I have a lot of support around me.”

Ms Ardern didn’t even have a national scandal and uncertain job prospects to contend with.

When news of Mr Joyce’s affair with Ms Campion, 33, broke earlier this month, the main concern was whether the revelation was in the public interest.

Given the mass media and public attention it has generated since, that question appears to have been answered.

But what remains to be seen is how Mr Joyce, 50, will juggle his political duties with parenting his newborn at the Armidale home he shares with Ms Campion.

As a father of four daughters with Natalie, his estranged wife of 24 years, Mr Joyce is an old hand. So what can the new Baby Joyce expect from dad’s parenting style?

Barnaby Joyce with his family in 2005 (left) and in 2015 (right). Photo: Facebook

His two eldest daughters Bridgette and Julia painted a vivid picture of life with Mr Joyce in interviews last March with the Weekend Australian.

His other daughters, Caroline, 17, and Odette, 15, were away at boarding school.

When Julia, 19, found out someone had spent a day with her dad, she replied: “Glad someone got to spend time with him.”

Bridgette, 20, said: “Probably the worst thing is that we haven’t spent time together as a family since he got elected in 2004.”

Nine when her dad became a public figure, she would tag along to political events just to spend time with him in the car.

But, she said, when they arrived, she would “get lost” in a sea of lights and cameras, and her dad would “take off” and, “I’d be lost … and I’m like, ‘Okaaaaaay'”.

Natalie said if the girls wanted to have their father come to an important school event, they would call his PA to see if she could book them into his diary.

“That’s really sad,” she said.

Odette was only 18 months old when Mr Joyce went into politics and he was away so often that when he did come home, she “wouldn’t go near him” because he was such a stranger, Natalie said.

Mr Joyce owned that he was away so often and for so long that the girls stopped caring about his return.

“In the end they give up on you,” he said.

Perhaps it will fall to Ms Ardern to offer her fellow Kiwi some tips on how to balance work and home life in the spotlight.

My father handed me a strong code of family expectations, far more effective than any law. Where you must work for the…

Posted by Barnaby Joyce on Saturday, September 3, 2016

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