- Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has revealed just how tough he is doing, claiming that a $200,000 plus salary doesn’t go very far when you’re supporting two families.
- Joyce has even taken to slaughtering his own farm animals, living without a dishwasher, and buying a single coffee per day as a result.
- The experience, Joyce said, has given him an insight into how tough those living on Newstart — who receive around $250 a a week — must be doing it.
Nationals MP and Coalition backbencher Barnaby Joyce has spectacularly claimed he is struggling to make ends meet, despite being one of the highest earners in the country.
The member for New England said that with two children to his current partner Vikki Campion, plus his support of his estranged wife and family, he was doing it tough, in an interview with the Courier-Mail.
“It’s not that I’m not getting money it’s just that it’s spread so thin,” he told the Queensland newspaper.
Last year, it emerged that Joyce had carried on an affair with Campion, a former political staffer of his and 17 years his junior. As a result, his marriage to wife Natalie, with whom he has four children, broke down.
“I’m just saying these circumstances have made me more vastly attuned … it’s just a great exercise in humility going from deputy prime minister to watching every dollar you get,” he said.
That’s pushed him to cut costs wherever he can, even slaughtering his own farm animals to cut his grocery bill. You won’t find that one in the Barefoot Investor.
But that’s not all.
“A politician (renting a duplex without a dishwasher) for 415 bucks a week, he’s not living high on the hog, is he?”, Joyce said.
Forced kicking and screaming to wash his own dishes, he’s certainly not. Then again, nor are a growing number of Australians — one-in-three at last count — who have no option but to rent.
That’s only worsened by the fact that when he was deputy prime minister, his government oversaw Australia’s housing market become the second-least affordable in the world.
At this stage, someone should have suggested that the advice Joyce offered in 2017 — that city slickers who complain about expenses should just move to the country — was a little flawed.
“What people have got to realise is that houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba,” he explained in 2017.
What then is Joyce’s advice for an overpaid parliamentarian living in regional Australian, able to expense all his travel costs, and yet still complains?
However, while Joyce said it was these circumstances of his creation that had put him in a financial squeeze, he actually makes much more than he acknowledged.
“I’m on an incredibly good salary… on $211,000 a year,” he told Sky News in a subsequent interview.
.@Barnaby_Joyce on reports he is ‘skint’:
I’m on an incredibly good salary, and I say that because otherwise people will say ‘you’re full of it mate, you’re on $211,000 a year’. But I cover all my responsibilities and live with what's left.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 28, 2019
That’s not quite correct.
The $211,000 figure is Joyce’s base rate. On top of that, he receives $46,000 as an electorate allowance, plus he is eligible for a $19,500 car allowance, travel and accommodation allowances, plus other perks.
All up that pushes Joyce’s salary to at least $280,000 a year plus 15.4% in superannuation.
Sure it’s still a long way from his salary when he was deputy prime minister — around $425,000 or $35,000 a month — but it’s not exactly loose change.
It puts him among the highest earners in the country, at the same time that the average worker has been for years waiting for a substantial wage increase.
It’s also not as if Joyce has any excuse for muddling the numbers. Before he joined politics he earned his (presumably more modest) crust as an accountant.
Now that Joyce is penny-pinching, he said he can understand how hard it must be for people in less fortunate circumstances.
That’s despite the fact he takes home after tax around twice the median wage — $1,604.90 according to the lastest figures.
While his move to support raising Newstart, Australia’s unemployment benefit, will be welcome by those on it, they won’t have much sympathy for Joyce either.
Those eligible only receive between $250.85 and $300.55 a week — not enough to even dream of living in Joyce’s measly duplex.
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