Bruce Springsteen has spent his entire career advocating for the working-class white man. Nobody understands the blue collar life like the Boss. Even he has never used the term ‘white victim’. Barnaby Joyce grew up on a farm. He is a self-made man. When he talks about farming we should listen because he knows that life, he’s lived it. When he talks about the plight of being white he is full of shite.
The only white victim in his life is Natalie Abberfield, as his wife.
Abberfield gave 30 years of her life to him. She raised four of his daughters and helped him rise to become a giant of Australian politics. To discover that the man you have given everything to is looking to swap you in for a newer model, as you would with a tractor, must be like the feeling you get when you think there’s one more step than there is.
Joyce’s book Weatherboard and Iron is intended to paint this man as someone who was a simple country boy who rose to greatness and made one error. This man, who was in the accountancy business from 1991 to 2005, is worth A$18 million, has no idea what it is like to feel victimised in 2018. He does not understand the stress being poor can have on your mental wellbeing.
That is why his comments about suicide rankle. He is using his mental illness as a shield, a defence. He is using his suicidal thoughts as a defence for splitting up a family. He should totally own it. He is also sending the message that you should only seek professional help as a last resort.
According to the article in the SMH, ‘Joyce’s wife Natalie – mother of their four daughters and from whom he is now estranged – “demanded, with our relationship in serious trouble, that I seek help”.‘
He didn’t listen. He did not seek help even with his relationship in dire straits. He only sought help when he feared for his own life. He seems to only care about himself. To compare himself with Winston Churchill, who was one of the pioneers of openly talking about mental health is typical of the egotism Joyce has consistently displayed.
Of course there is some wheat you can find amongst the chaff: bringing mental health issues to the forefront, highlighting the effect the drought has had on regional and remote Australia, and the plight of the working class. This isn’t special, however. That’s his job; to protect his constituents and to be their voice. If you want a politician whose mental health advocacy you can admire, look no further than Julia Gillard. She has quietly gone about making Beyondblue even more mainstream with a refreshing lack of the ‘look at me’ that is so readily employed by Joyce.
Do not feel sorry for Joyce- he has brought this upon himself. If he were to commit suicide it would be undoubtedly tragic -as is all death by suicide. The way he has behaved has ruined his glittering career, tainted it permanently with the stench of falsehood. He has thrown horse manure in the face of those who speak for the white working class, the Springsteens of the world, with his casual references to suicide and comments about white victims.
He should be ashamed- no doubt he says he is. In fact, just how shameful he feels will soon be coming to a headline near you.
If you are struggling with suicidal ideation, please call a helpline.