Why Turnbull's bonk ban is silly

Malcolm Turnbull's ban on ministers having sex with staff takes little account of human relations.
Malcolm Turnbull's ban on ministers having sex with staff takes little account of human relations.

Malcolm Turnbull's ban on ministers having sex with staff will be as effective as King Canute trying to stop the sea.

The prime minister's edict, issued in the wake of the Barnaby Joyce imbroglio, takes little account of human relations in all their messy glory.

And in the hothouse atmosphere of Parliament House, temptations and opportunities to err are probably greater than anywhere else in the country.

Ministers and staff work long hours together and share the excitements and disappointments of politics, often with a bottle of wine. Politics is addictive and many are hooked.

It's not such a big step for a close working relationship to become something more, especially when home and family are far away.

It's not clear exactly why Turnbull did what he did, beyond his compulsion to do something.

Was it on moral grounds, or the slightly old fashioned (though nothing wrong with that) notions of fidelity and betrayal?

If so, why should it extend to ministers with no-one to betray? And why shouldn't it extend to backbenchers?

And what of a person who starts a relationship as a backbencher and then is promoted.

Turnbull could also be trying to prevent ministers misspending taxpayers' money on staffer lovers.

This is a separate issue. Of course rorting should be stopped, whatever the relationship. It's wrong in itself.

Some have applauded the ban on the assumption that it will protect vulnerable young women being exploited by men with power over them.

It's true that ministers - and that includes women ministers, to whom the ban also presumably applies - have largely unfettered power over staffers.

But most staffers are mature, probably graduates, quite capable of saying no. And if, as they say, power is a great aphrodisiac, then it may be the staffer who sometimes takes the initiative.

Parliament House has seen just about every possible sort of liaison - involving ministers (perhaps some past prime ministers), backbenchers, personal and parliamentary staffers and press gallery journalists.

It''s all very mucky, just like life.

Australian Associated Press