‘Are your daughters embarrassed by you?’
THE things you've got to do to sell a book.
After being bagged mercilessly over the Barnabygate scandal by Charlie Pickering on ABC's irreverent The Weekly, former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce fronted up for an interview last night.
And after a solid day of interviews on the publicity trail to promote his book, Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, The Bush and Me , Mr Joyce would have gone in knowing he'd have to take a grimace-and-bear-it approach to the barbs.
Even when Pickering produced a "cheque" for one billion dollars as payment for the interview - a direct reference to My Joyce and partner Vikki Campion's paid "tell all" with Channel 7's Sunday Night - he soldiered on, maintaining the line the book is "not about me".
Pickering opened the interview saying he was surprised Joyce had agreed to it, then produced the giant cheque.
"Before we go any further, it's all right, I do have your cheque here for the interview," he said.
"That's one billion dollars, as requested."
Then in reference to government budget cuts to the ABC, he asked Joyce not to cash it "until the next triennial funding period for the ABC … a bit of an incentive for you guys to not cut the ABC budget".
Joyce played a straight bat, saying "we'll keep fighting for you".
Pickering then posed the question the public's been asking about the book since the scandal which saw him leave his wife, get his mistress pregnant, and lose the Deputy Prime Ministership erupted: "This was all dying down, why start talking about it again?"
Joyce said the book wasn't a memoir about him, "it's a memoir about trying to look after people who in regional areas are doing it tough", which he'd been working on it for about five years, long before Barnabygate.
Not deflected, Pickering pointed to the dedication of the book to Joyce's beloved daughters.
"Are your daughters embarrassed by you?" he asked.
Joyce opted for a political answer: "Charlie, I love my daughters dearly. And I love my son. And I think that what we've got to do is make sure we have a nation where there are opportunities if they live in a regional town, a small town, as good as your opportunities where you are".
The former Nationals leader dedicated the book to all five of his children, writing: "I could have given you a life outside the spotlight I turned on you. I wanted the best for you, but was blinded in the glare of the exertion."
He told Pickering he wasn't the first politician to write a book "about policy".
Pickering said he'd had "an unorthodox run-up to publishing of the book".
Joyce agreed: "Well, I suppose it's a life in the public gaze. It is perhaps a bit unorthodox."
Pickering's summation: "You came over the wicket", drew howls of laughter form the audience.
With Joyce steering the interview towards the issue of drought and political policy, Pickering asked if it was difficult to "be out stumping with the National (Party)", given Ms Campion had accused members of that party of pressuring her to abort their child.
Mr Joyce said that was a "serious issue" but "if your role in politics is to sit quietly on the backbench, say nothing and vote as required, I don't think you're doing your full job".
Of the personal matters in his book, he said "if I left it out people would say I was whitewashing it".
"If that gets you to read the book, well and good, read it. And hopefully pick up the rest of the message with it."