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Statement by Andrew Woodward, Labor Candidate for the Federal seat of Cowper

29 May 2018

One very simple question for Luke Hartsuyker – do you support Barnaby Joyce’s cash-for-comment?

The Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has one very simple question to answer today: Does he support his former leader Barnaby Joyce accepting $150,000 for an exclusive interview with a media organisation.

His answer will tell us about the state of his judgement – an important issue for the people of Cowper. Judgment is an important issue for people in office or seeking re-election. We expect their judgment to reflect public opinion and community values.

The behaviour of Mr Joyce in agreeing to a cash-for-comment arrangement and then saying it was his partner’s idea is extraordinary for a person of his position.

It is not a private matter. It is not a matter for Barnaby and his partner.

It is a matter that our community leaders should lead on. He should be condemned, as many on his own ‘side’, to their credit, have done.

Barnaby Joyce is a former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Party. He remains on the public payroll. It is unprecedented for a serving politician to get paid for a media interview – be it for $1 or $150,000 as is the case here.

All of this makes it a public matter and one that our public officials, like Luke Hartsuyker, should have an opinion on. And it is either yes or no. There’s no room for cop-outs, avoiding the question, dismissing it or laughing it off.

Mr Hartsuyker’s response will give us an idea of his judgment. It was lacking in February this year. In the face of overwhelming public opinion saying Mr Joyce should resign over the original scandal, Mr Hartsuyker ignored the public and supported his leader, without qualification.

“I do support Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals and I will continue to do so.” (Manning River Times, 16 February 2018)

Luke Hartsuyker’s judgment was sadly lacking then. Will his judgment let him down again by supporting, being ambivalent or avoiding an answer on the behaviour of Mr Joyce.

If Mr Hartsuyker rebukes Mr Joyce, I will say well done and thank you. If he doesn’t, it is an open and shut case that Mr Hartsuyker is totally out of touch and not fit for re-election.  We deserve better.


Manning River Times, 16 February 2018

Updated: 29 May 2018

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