Should we cut politicians some slack for things they say after they’ve had a few drinks?
Barnaby Joyce thinks so.
The Deputy Prime Minister has weighed in on the leaked recording of Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne that has stirred up tensions within the Government.
Mr Pyne was addressing moderate allies at a Sydney bar on Friday night and said he had supported Malcolm Turnbull in every leadership ballot. He also said Coalition colleagues were working towards making same-sex marriage a reality.
Mr Joyce is currently in London for trade and agriculture talks, but said he’d been following the story.
“Obviously I’ve been reading the media closely with what’s happening at home,” he told News Breakfast.
“But look, what someone says late at night after a function is not really consequential to where our nation is going.
“And I think you have to give some people some latitude that if they’ve been to a function and they’ve had a few beers and given an impromptu speech, that is not to be seen as totemic of where the nation is.
“Where our nation goes is determined by trade issues.”
The leaked recording sparked a war of words among Coalition members, but Mr Pyne downplayed it and said it was a “sensational story” that “excited the press”.
Mr Joyce said same-sex marriage was not a pressing issue for most Australians.
“For most people [it’s] concentrating on issues such as power prices,” he said.
“People say you’re being flippant. No I’m not.
“For people who are doing it tough, that’s the main game in their lives. Making sure they’ve got more money in their wallet.”
My Joyce said most Australians already had a stance on same-sex marriage and that a plebiscite was the best way to settle the debate.
“So how do we deal with the issue? You do it by a plebiscite,” he said.
“You say, now your vote is as good as mine. You get one vote. You get one vote, I get one vote.
“You don’t need to lobby me. You need to lobby everybody else. Because we all just get one vote in this.
“And we put that forward to [Opposition Leader] Bill Shorten and Bill Shorten thought, ‘No, I can play politics with this and stir up the ashes in this fire’.”