on air now

Why Barnaby Joyce is finished (but two MPs caught ‘in flagrante’ will survive)

Both edgy colleagues and history indicate Barnaby Joyce is finished, a Canberra veteran has told Neil Mitchell.

The Australian journalist Niki Savva says Coalition MPs have told her they fear Mr Joyce will be “toxic” in their electorates after it was revealed the Nationals leader is expecting a baby with his former employee and had separated with his wife of 24 years.

Savva, a staffer in the offices of John Howard and Peter Costello, also said it would be unprecedented for a conservative figure to survive such a controversy.

But she insisted Mr Joyce isn’t alone in mixing pleasure with politics in Canberra.

“When I heard about Barnaby, within in a flash I also heard about two non-government MPs caught in flagrante in one of their offices,” she said.

“This is what happens. They call (Parliament) a ‘hothouse’ for reason.”

NEIL MITCHELL: So why aren’t (the other MPs) named and shamed?

NIKI SAVVA: Well, two consenting adults in private… It’s a slightly different set of circumstances.

Click PLAY for the full Niki Savva interview to hear more

Few MPs have spoken out against Mr Joyce, Savva said Coalition MPs “do say things differently in private that they say publicly” about the matter.

“The feeling is he will be toxic in their electorates,” she said.

Of those hoping Joyce remains, some have pointed to Bob Hawke and Bill Clinton for evidence that reputations can survive.

But Savva said “they are very different” because Hazel Hawke and Hillary Clinton stood by their husbands.

“Hawke and Clinton also were not leaders of a conservative party, someone out there trying to get votes from conservative people.

“I think when you take all those things into account, he can’t survive.”