Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is threatening legal action against The Bug after its office was handed the finished manuscript and proposed cover artwork (above) for his follow-up work to Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, the bush and me.
“My publishers and I are not quite ready to launch that yet, sunshine,” Joyce told this publication from his Tamworth electoral office. “Go ahead and I’ll have your last red cent and that’s not a threat – that’s a promise.”
When The Bug offered to send it to him, the Member for New England and drought envoy became more conciliatory.
“Mate, we’ve all got to make a bob, what with our second bub on the way, so okay, seeing you’ve probably read it, what more do you need to know about The Corridors of Lust? Just ask and I’ll try to answer,” he said.
We did ask, and here’s how the conversation unfolded:
The Bug: “How does your second book differ from your first?”
Joyce: “It’s a novel this time, set in the NSW Parliament just after the turn of the 19th Century. Its main protagonists are a ruggedly handsome retail…sorry, I meant…. rural politician who is the state’s agriculture minister and deputy premier.
The Bug: “Ruggedly handsome?”
Joyce: “That’s right. Rhett Bull is a decent, honest, more or less happily married man far from home just trying to do the best by his fellow NSW citizens.”
The Bug: “He and his wife have four daughters?”
Joyce: “That’s right. The book is basically about the loneliness of political life and how political power was a powerful aphrodisiac back then … just as it remains to this day, obviously. Into Rhett’s ministerial work environment comes this pretty young media adviser…”
The Bug: “Media adviser? Don’t mean to be picky, but you do know ‘media’ is a plural? There would have been only newspapers back then.”
Joyce: “Sure. But there would have been more than one newspaper.”
The Bug: “I guess so. Anyway, sorry to interrupt.”
Joyce: “So yeah. This pretty young media adviser gets to work on his staff…”
The Bug: (snickering)
Joyce: “What’s so funny?”
The Bug: “Nothing. Go on.”
Joyce: “This pretty young media adviser gets to work on his staff…”
The Bug: “Scarlett O’Campion?”
Joyce: “That’s right. And Rhett, who by the way has campaigned long and hard to allow family members to work for ministers to keep relationships loving and stable, finds himself unsettled by the far-from-subtle come-ons from this young staffer. Emotions and feelings start to build and…
The Bug: “Sounds like a real bodice ripper?”
Joyce: “More the other way around, sport! Rhett is such a charming, down-to-earth character …
The Bug: “And ruggedly handsome.”
Joyce: “That’s right. Women can’t seem to get enough of him. Anyway, let’s not spoil the book for other people. And everything we’ve just discussed has been for your background information only, okay? It’s completely off the record.
“Our marketing strategy has been mapped out to the minute and if The Bug goes ahead, I’ll state again: my lawyers will come down on you like a ton of bricks.
“The penalty you’ll pay will be massive if you in any way affect projected sales for The Corridors of Lust. As I said earlier, I’m not on the big salary any more and Vivian and I need to make a bob…”
The Bug: “Vikki.”
Joyce: “That’s right. Vikki.”
Editor’s statement: The Bug will not be cowered by legal threats from Mr Joyce. Extracts from The Corridors of Lust will be run on our website later this week.