Barnaby Joyce.
Barnaby Joyce. Rowan Schindler

OPINION: Joyce family affairs should stay private

WE WANT our politicians to be down-to-earth and just like us.

But when they step out of line, there's an outcry: they're supposed to be better than us, to lead by example and uphold the finest standards.

Now while this a perfectly fine expectation when it comes to their role in office, their representation of their constituents (and, yes, their parliamentary expenses), I don't think we need to be quite so unforgiving when it comes to their personal lives.

News broke this week that Nationals leader and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce's new partner, a former staffer in his office, was pregnant.

The very public, unflattering paparazzi snap of Mr Joyce's pregnant partner was splashed over newspapers and the internet simply because of his position. And while I can see merit in the argument that there is much hypocrisy in Mr Joyce's conduct given his conservative, family focused, anti-same sex marriage views, I also think the story plays in to our society's love of gossip.

Were this relationship to have had an impact on Mr Joyce's performance or there was any suggestion of parliamentary misconduct that would be a different story.

But in this case, isn't the Joyce family just like many other Australian families?

The perfect nuclear family can rarely be found in our society these days, so why do we still insist on holding our politicians to these standards?

And I don't think any of us can be in a position to judge unless we ourselves have an unblemished record. Above all as this story circulates it's important to remember there are several innocent parties in all this, including Mr Joyce's children, who don't deserve to be the subject of water cooler gossip.