He sparked outrage when his affair with former staffer Vikki Campion was exposed, but now Barnaby Joyce has reportedly revealed the impact of the scandal left him battling depression and even contemplating death.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the former deputy prime minister, 51, has given a detailed and emotional account for the first time of his cheating scandal in his new tell-all autobiography Weatherboard and Iron, where it’s claimed he even compares his mental health to a “crazed cattle dog”.
The news that Joyce was expecting a baby with Campion was exposed in February, just months after his split from his wife of 24 years, Natalie, with whom he already shares four daughters.
Now he has reportedly revealed in his new book that issues in his marriage and a spiral into depression led him to begin drinking more and spending time in pubs around Canberra, instead of at home with his wife – who he insists had tried to get him help at the time.
“Winston Churchill had his black dog. Mine was a half-crazed cattle dog, biting everything that came near the yard,” he wrote, according to the publication.
His mental health got so bad, he even contemplated dying and added: “I have hurt so many that I want to go without anybody knowing.”
As he continued drinking and dodging professional help, Joyce also admitted in his book he began “wandering and getting closer to other women” before he met Campion. In fact, his actions sparked worries among his closest friends and colleagues at the time.
Former senator Jacqui Lambie previously told 3AW she was worried about the former deputy PM’s health, after he gave an interview claiming the paternity of his then-unborn son was in doubt.
Speaking to the publication, Joyce said he actually wrote most of his book before the affair happened, originally hoping to draw attention to the hardships of those living in regional Australia.
A description posted on the website of New Holland Publishers previously teased the book by telling readers they may “be surprised by what they learn”, with the autobiography being billed as “part memoir, part political insider”.
It read: “Joyce’s world came crashing down around him in spectacular fashion when it was revealed that he was expecting a child with new partner, Vikki Campion, a former member of his political staff. In Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, the bush and me, Joyce not only provides a context to this calamitous series of events but also offers an insight into the inner workings of politics and the media in this country.
“Part memoir, part political insider and deeply personal, read the story from the man in the Akubra hat and then make your own mind up. You may be surprised by what you will learn.”
Joyce announced his decision to step down from his role as party leader and deputy PM back in February, after news of his affair broke, despite having allegedly been an open secret in Canberra for months.
The shocking announcement was revealed when The Daily Telegraph ran a photograph of a heavily pregnant Campion – who previously worked for the paper – on their front page alongside the headline ‘Bundle of Joyce’. It came just three months after Joyce confirmed he had separated from Natalie, in December last year.
Sebastian, who was born in April, is Joyce’s fifth child and only son. The three-month-old bub made his TV debut in June when new parents Vikki and Barnaby gave their first televised interview to Channel Seven’s Sunday Night programme, earning them an impressive $150,000 pay cheque.
His ex wife Natalie opened up about the hurt caused by the very public affair for the first time recently when she gave an interview to Women’s Weekly magazine.
Speaking at the time, she said: “I’m normally a very private person but I knew I had to find my voice. They thought I would lie down, but this time I couldn’t. I’m doing this so the girls feel empowered, and know their mum stood up and defended our fine name.”
She also slammed her former partner’s TV interview, describing it as “an absolute disgrace” and slammed Joyce for overlooking their four girls, Bridgette, Julia, Caroline and Odette, and pledging all of the $150,000 earnings to his new son.
Starts at 60 has contacted Barnaby Joyce’s team for comment.