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For the first time I feel sorry for him

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There it was, lying on the road. By all appearances, not good. Yes, this is the ever-entertaining Barnaby Joyce, the eternal cowboy who wants to alert us to the horrors of free vaccinations against human papillomavirus, the horrors of climate change action, the horrors of of abortion, and the joy of two-family values.

And now, for the first time in forever, I feel sorry for him.

Like the rest of us, Barnaby Joyce doesn’t read the side-effects leaflet that comes with the medicine.Credits: James Brickwood

He was filmed last week, lying down, cursing on the phone. A former deputy prime minister, Joyce said he was talking to his wife and former staffer Vikki Campion before he fell from a planter box and lay in his own trance. He was probably cursing because he hurt himself. He also explained that he found himself in this predicament because he mixed alcohol and prescription drugs. I guess, like the rest of us, he doesn’t read the side effects pamphlet that comes with the medicine.

Parliamentarians and those who work with them need help and support because they work in high-pressure environments and obviously have no other way of dealing with their stress than being petty. I don’t understand why adults don’t find other ways to cope (running, meditation) but nothing. And I feel like they don’t like options.

The culture of machismo and booze-fuelled bravado puts us all at risk, but the culture also explains why the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce, charged with implementing the excellent recommendations of the Jenkins Report, is deeply troubled. Too slow implementation.

The report was produced in response to numerous revelations about Parliament House culture (drinking culture, sexual assault, drinking culture, hypocrisy at work desk, drinking culture, excessive socializing -connection of powerful men with less powerful women, drinking culture…) . Recommendation number 28 pinged alcohol as a key concern – Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces require an alcohol policy. Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins made that crystal-clear.

Limit availability to align with work, health and safety obligations. Get the ducks in damage minimization order. Explain to these jokers, in one-syllable words, what the expectations are around alcohol use. Support those in trouble. Provide alcohol-free networking opportunities. Jenkins recommends providing additional education. I have my doubts. A person who is not educated enough to know the harms of alcohol cannot be elected to parliament.

Maybe, instead, introduce the idea that it’s possible to relax without being blind drunk.


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