Questions were not asked (or at least, not aired) about how Campion was shuffled between highly paid ministerial advisor jobs, and why Joyce, even though he said he knew he could not keep his job as Deputy Prime Minister once news of the pregnancy became known, continued to campaign in the New England by-election as though nothing was amiss.
But for a self-serving, “tell all” interview where the participants were so guarded and obfuscated the truth, it was very revealing, just unintentionally so.
First, in one of the most surprising aspects to the interview, Campion spoke a great deal about abortion. Pregnancy termination is not a topic that is very openly discussed in Australia, particularly not in relation to the children of Jesuit-educated, card-carrying Catholic politicians.
Joyce said flat-out that he didn’t believe in abortion, so for him there was no question that their baby, the product of their controversial, life-ruining affair, would be born (prompting some viewers to wonder why he didn’t take his marriage vows as seriously as the whole “thou shalt not abort” part of the Catholic God’s word).
But Campion said she believed in a woman’s right to choose, and detailed, with obvious distress, how she procured abortion medication but found herself unable to go through with it.
“I felt overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation which we’d caused ourselves,” she said.
It was a quiet but powerful expression of a situation many women have found themselves in - pregnant and overwhelmed, with uncertainty about whether they would have the support of the baby’s father if they continued the pregnancy.
So many women have had abortions in similar emotional states, but it’s rare to hear their stories told on prime time television.
The abortion theme continued when Campion alleged certain people within politics, who she would not name, pressured her to terminate her pregnancy.
“And they said, ‘If you don’t, they’re going to come after you,’” she recounted.
Joyce made sure we knew these “absolute scum of the earth people” were in Parliament House, thereby further muddying the waters of his future in politics.
He still seemed to blame the entire mess on people other himself. He even said that his thought when he looked at his baby son was: “Boy, you caused some trouble”.
Another excruciating moment came when Joyce insisted he had to take responsibility for the affair because he was “the adult” in the relationship, to which the 33-year-old Campion responded that she was an adult too.
Amid the awkwardness and the mess, was the new baby, Sebastian, on whose behalf his parents said they were doing the interview. The interview reaped $150,000 which will go into a trust fund for him. Campion reasoned that he may as well make money from the prurient interest in their lives, seeing as “everyone else” was, which was an odd position for a former journalist to take.
But the baby boy was beautiful, innocent, and obviously beloved. Perhaps, once everything has settled down, that’s all that matters out of this sordid chapter in Australian political history.