The possibility that Barnaby Joyce could become deputy prime minister in a coalition government suddenly has Liberals - quite a few of them, anyway - frothing at the mouth.

Out in the bush… Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

They see the controversial senator’s defiance of front-bench solidarity over the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium as part of a carefully worked out political strategy.

The aim? To help him win a Lower House seat and take over leadership of the National Party from Warren Truss.

“Barnaby’s not worried about the coalition,” a prominent Liberal MP complained yesterday. “He’s being selfish. And Tony Abbott has failed to deal with it.”

Like Labor ministers, Joyce’s Liberal critics accuse him of exploiting xenophobia with his opposition to the takeover of the giant Queensland cotton farm - easily the largest irrigation property in Australia - by a textile firm owned by the Chinese Government.

Joyce resents the accusation. His problem, he tells colleagues, is with China’s communist government, not with the Chinese people.

Joyce struck a populist chord when he thumbed his nose at the policy enunciated quite clearly by Abbott, shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, and others —that, having been properly scrutinised by the Foreign Investment Review Board, the Cubbie sale should be welcomed.

A senior Liberal admitted yesterday: “From the public’s perspective, Barnaby is on the side of the angels on this.” Resentful Liberals see two likely motivations for Joyce’s refusal to toe the coalition’s foreign investment policy line. The first has to do with his ambitions for his party.

At the next federal election, there could be several three-cornered contests—battles in seats where the Nationals and Liberals run against each other as well as against Labor.

The assumption is that, by latching on to an emotive issue like foreign buy-outs of Australian agricultural land, Joyce believes he can give the Nats an edge over their coalition partners. And then there is his personal ambition.

“Barnaby has exposed himself this week,” says one of the Liberals most critical of Abbott for not doing more to rein in the maverick National. “He is using this issue to build his profile further so that the Liberal National Party in Queensland will have no choice but to pre-select him for the seat of Maranoa.

“It’s about getting into the Lower House so he can have a go at the leadership.”

To win Maranoa, Joyce either has to force incumbent National party MP Bruce Scott into retirement or defeat him in a pre-selection ballot.

Scott’s response to approval of the Cubbie Station sale was instructive.Initially, Scott said it was up to the FIRB, not politicians, to decide if the sale was in the national interest.

A day later, however, it was a different story.

“I have been contacted by numerous constituents of the Maranoa electorate, as well as from all over the nation, concerned about Cubbie Station’s future,” Scott said. “I won’t allow these issues to be buried.”

Joyce had read the mood. Scott felt the heat.

The situation might not be so clear-cut when it comes to the leadership, however. Supporters say Joyce is under no illusions about this.

According to one source close to Joyce, he understands that “sometimes being vociferous makes you a knight of the round table but not King Arthur”.

In other words, while agreeing with what he says and respecting him for saying it, people might also wonder whether someone who rocks the boat so much is suited to leadership.

The truth is that Joyce might not be as ambitious as is generally believed.

After all, before eventually joining the front bench, he three times rejected offers of a shadow ministry because he wanted to avoid being compromised.

Hockey has gained in stature in the Liberal Party for being the one to strongly and publicly rebuke Joyce for his defiance. Abbott is copping criticism for being weak by comparison.   

And he is accused of adopting a double standard where Joyce is concerned.

When South Australian Liberal backbencher Jamie Briggs suggested that last year’s tax summit should discuss broadening the GST, Abbott slapped him down within the hour.

But it’s not hard to see why Abbott is being careful. He does not want Joyce outside the tent where he would be subject to no restraint at all. 

Joyce was outside when he waged a fierce attack on Malcolm Turnbull’s support for an emissions trading system, helping to change the Liberal leadership in the process.

He was also outside when he gave then prime minister John Howard all sorts of grief over the privatisation of Telstra.

The interesting thing is that, by week’s end - while sounding as aggressively defiant as ever - Joyce was no longer demanding abandonment of the Cubbie sale and a government break-up of the property into smaller lots.

Instead, having made his point and scored his headlines, he was focusing merely on the need for greater transparency in the FIRB process.

Laurie Oakes is political editor for the Nine Network.

Comments on this piece close at 8pm AEST Sunday.

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    • Dave C says:

      06:27am | 08/09/12

      This cubbie issue will blow over, the political cycle will move on and unless Barnaby continues to speak out of turn then this overall issue might be important later. For now I see this as the weeks main political news so lets do an in depth opinion piece about it.

      The irony of the whole situation is that the Libs and Nats should (like they did in QLD and won the biggest majority in history anywhere) combine and form 1 united Liberal National Party across the country. I mean there is now only 3 states (oddly enough they are in Govt in those states too, WA NSW and VIC) where they are not separate (In the NT and SA they merged years ago and are under different names) and in Tas and ACT the Nats dont exist.

      Part of the deal is that any federal LNP Deputy Leader would have to come from a rural or regional seat unless the leader is already in a rural seat. I mean this just formalises an arrangement that has been in place since the 1920s when the Nats forms a coalition with firstly the UAP and then the Libs in 1944. Think of it as long term defacto partners finally getting married.

      This would end the 3 cornered contests and the 2 separate party rooms. Then once in Government just like the good old days when the PM is on holidays at Christmas time then the Deputy PM can run the country (just like Fadden, McEwan, Anthony, Fisher, Anderson or Vaille did) whilst sitting on the tractor and all will be right with the world.

    • Dr B S Goh, Australian in Asia says:

      10:37am | 08/09/12

      I am against the sale of large tracts of our Agricultural lands to foreign companies. Reason for this is the looming global food crisis see:

      Each FOUR months the World population increase is greater than the TOTAL population of Australia.

      Dr Bob Brown rolled over PM Gillard on the carbon tax to fight global warming. So the fact that Senator Barnaby will have major influence on future Coalition Govt is nothing new in politics.

    • Tom says:

      04:18pm | 09/09/12

      Barnaby cares. The rest of you don’t. Sorry folks, its that simple.

    • Terry2 says:

      06:29am | 08/09/12

      The prospect of Joyce becoming the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia in the event of a coalition government is sufficiently bizarre as to act as a potential spoiler to Abbott’s chances in the next election.The Liberals will have to hande this carefully to avoid it derailing their chances of gaining government in 2013.

    • Alfie says:

      04:06pm | 08/09/12

      Never mind. It’s a good sign when the likes of Oakes is already predicting the line-up of our future government. Even he has given up on the current clueless mob.

    • Craig says:

      06:33am | 08/09/12

      One thing you can’t pin on Joyce is subtlety!

      This strategy and goal have been obvious for years.

      He has the potential to end the coalition through his blustery hamfisted political maneuvering.

      Just shows how weak the Nationals are as a party that they can neither control him by keeping him to the party line nor create a party atmosphere where disagreements can be played out without public humiliation for someone.

      The nationals are not much of a party anymore anyway, just the tail of the coalition dog. They get far fewer votes than the Greens & get their seats through concentration of their few voters outback.

    • Tom says:

      02:47pm | 08/09/12

      Barnaby wiped the debating floor with Conroy on NBN. Does not say much for Conroy’s intelligence, does it?

    • Percy says:

      03:06pm | 08/09/12

      Doesn’t mind showing how much of a looney he is, that should be his undoing!

    • Alfie says:

      04:31pm | 08/09/12

      Agree. Just wait until the ‘real’ cost of the NBN is revealed. It is a massive Labor cash splurge hiden from actual budget reality.

    • Reality Check says:

      04:39pm | 08/09/12

      Stephen Conroy - Bachelor of Economics.

      Barnaby Joyce - Commerce Degree.

      Tom - One of these degrees is for dummies, if you go and have a look at the bottom of your corn-flakes box you will probably find Barnaby’s degree.

      “Barnaby wiped the debating floor with Conroy on NBN”

      ...And when was that Tom, any links? What was Barnaby’s plan…tin cans and a length of string?

    • Stereotype says:

      06:29pm | 09/09/12

      Wake up, it’s all just smoke and mirrors.
      The Nationals aren’t polling well in the bush with all these Coal Seam Gas companies raping rural Queensland unhindered. The Greens are more popular, at least they’re out there manning the blockades and being locked up and charged for trying to protect farmer’s rights.
      But when you’re angling for a seat in the Lower House you have to at least pretend that you care about your constituents.
      Barnaby Rubble is, and always has been, just another self-serving bag of wind.

    • cheap white trash says:

      06:35am | 08/09/12

      Barnaby. Our next deputy prime minister?
      Well at least you no where he stands on most issues,not like most Pollies who Pontificate and Spin BS 24hours a day.

      “Barnaby’s not worried about the coalition,” a prominent Liberal MP complained yesterday. “He’s being selfish. And Tony Abbott has failed to deal with it.”

      Laurie,so Barnaby’s doing what Kevin is doing,right?
      And is Julia dealing with it??
      At least Barnaby is out there,poor little Kevin runs around sulking all day,making snide remarks about Julia.

      And as for Barnaby as Deputy PM,yes please.

    • Joan says:

      11:09am | 08/09/12

      Look at the mob of clowns and disreputable pollies we call government today led by Gillard and Swan and Oakes is worried by Barnaby. As far as honesty is concerned Barnaby stands above Gillard and Swan. Honesty is a good start for any Deputy PM - who can forget the teacherous overnight knifing of peoples PM Rudd by Gillard. Australian land for future Australians - Barnaby speaks for millions of Australians who want to keep Australian land in Australian hands.

    • GetRidOfCommies says:

      12:17pm | 09/09/12

      Spot on Joan. Stop all foreign investment I say. We’re just giving our country away to the Chinese Communist Party. Give it 20 years and Australian born aussies will be forced to work on Chinese farming collectives in their own home states.
      It’s time to take back what is Australia’s, the Communist controlled mines and farms that belong to hard working Aussies. Who on earth ever though giving the Chinese Communist Party control over our farms and mines was a good idea?

    • Joan says:

      04:39pm | 09/09/12

      GetRidofCommies: Yep you bet they will expect to pay workers the going rate in China-  $2 per day?- how else will they make it viable?. If China and other foreigners can make a go of it as is, why can’t Australians.? What`s wrong with us? The Labor government has turned us into and handout dependent mentality ,  a no can do nation - that`s why.

    • GetRidOfCommies says:

      06:47pm | 09/09/12

      ” If China and other foreigners can make a go of it as is, why can’t Australians.?”

      It’s very simple why Australian’s can’t make a go of it Joan. Because you are better off in Australia being a dole buldger then a worker. The government throws literally thousands of dollars at anyone who chooses to sit at home and do nothing all day. How do they fund it? Through taxing every last dollar out of those of us who work.

      Pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps type people like Gina Rinehart can see the problem and are leaving this country in droves. The harder you work the more you get punished. The ALP hates the idea that some people can be wealthier then others, so they redistribute everything and make it so that anyone who wants to invest in making this country better is driven away to invest somewhere where they are treated with respect.

    • Queensland Observer says:

      06:39am | 08/09/12

      I may be a conservative but I’m city born and bred and I really do not understand why we are selling away sizeable bits of Australia to foreign investors. Certainly the land itself cannot be carted away overseas, but bits of Australia are suddenly becoming non-Australian - which means I suppose, not subject to our laws, environmental guidelines, and regulations. What is to stop the Chinese Government from using less than best practice farming (their own nation isn’t a shining example of environmental protection) - causing erosion, salinity, or weed problems to neighbouring properties or damage to the water table itself. Not to mention that we are giving other potentially aggressive nations, a sizeable foothold into our own country. Not particularly smart thinking for a sovereign nation. Also this FIRB I’ve heard has approved all land sales in the past - which makes it simply a rubber-stamp approving all foreign investments in this country. The fact that this potential sale has excited controversy in Australia should be a warning bell to FIRB to rethink its decision. Why can’t we offer our land for lease - keeping our land ultimately in Australian hands, and with better control over who does what on it.I may be a conservative but I’m city born and bred and I really do not understand why we are selling away sizeable bits of Australia to foreign investors. Certainly the land itself cannot be carted away overseas, but bits of Australia are suddenly becoming non-Australian - which means I suppose, not subject to our laws, environmental guidelines, and regulations. What is to stop the Chinese Government from using less than best practice farming (their own nation isn’t a shining example of environmental protection) - causing erosion, salinity, or weed problems to neighbouring properties or damage to the water table itself. Not to mention that we are giving other potentially aggressive nations, a sizeable foothold into our own country. Not particularly smart thinking for a sovereign nation. Also this FIRB I’ve heard has approved all land sales in the past - which makes it simply a rubber-stamp approving all foreign investments in this country. The fact that this potential sale has excited controversy in Australia should be a warning bell to FIRB to rethink its decision. Why can’t we offer our land for lease - keeping our land ultimately in Australian hands, and with better control over who does what on it.

    • Patrick says:

      11:29am | 08/09/12

      So are you saying that if i buy a block of land from the crown, I can do what I want because it is mine and therefore not subject to Australian laws?

      Seriously, I couldn’t even cut down an already dead tree without getting a fine because it is ‘significant’ -__-

      I don’t like the idea of foreign investors owning Australian land, business (running our jobs) either, it’s a bad move. Just don’t be misinformed when you form your opinions wink

    • Chris L says:

      12:03pm | 08/09/12

      I’ll be happy to be corrected on this, but I’m fairly certain (not being facetious, I actually mean I’m only “fairly” certain) that land within Australia cannot be considered “not subject to our laws, environmental guidelines, and regulations”.

      Are there any more learned Punchers who can clarify? (or, I guess I could just do some research, but my google-fu is not so good)

    • Queensland Observer says:

      12:49pm | 08/09/12

      Apologies for the duplication - internet doing weird things this morning.

    • Queensland Observer says:

      01:39pm | 08/09/12

      I’m not certain of it Patrick/Chris.L and I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong. It just worries me that China (given its own poor track record on conservation and degrading land) will employ the same mindset on land that they have acquired here. I mean an Aussie citizen can be bullied into doing the right thing by officials here, but who is going to raise a hand against China? I can’t see any of our politicians having the gonads to want to cause a diplomatic incident by questioning the Chinese on their farming methods. I’d envisage that the Chinese owners would nod their heads very politely and then go back to whatever they were doing in the first place.

    • marley says:

      03:44pm | 08/09/12

      @Queensland observer - we have far bigger foreign investors than the Chinese, and they abide by our laws..  If not, the courts take care of it.  And I see no reason to believe the courts will be incapable of dealing with any transgressions by the Chinese, since they don’t seem to have much difficulty dealing with American, British and other investors here who transgress.

      And it’s not a question of creating a diplomatic incident.  Chinese companies don’t have any sort of immunity from domestic laws here, and can be fined just as easily as local companies or other foreign investors.  Nor would the Chinese expect their companies to be immune from domestic law, given the way they deal with transgressions, real or imagined, by foreigners in China.

    • Reality Check says:

      04:52pm | 08/09/12

      “It just worries me that China (given its own poor track record on conservation and degrading land)”

      What un unbelievable load of codswallop..the Chinese have been farming their land for 5000 years and can still produce more than what we can…in comparison, after 200 years Australians have near destroyed what farming land we had.

      To suggest that we know more about land use than the Chinese is laughable at best and totally ignorant at worst.

      Confucius say Queensland Observer not very observant, he also says Queenslanders very xenophobic.

    • Queensland Observer says:

      05:57am | 09/09/12

      Perhaps Reality Check ought to do a simple Google search on the net:

      “37 percent of China’s total territory suffers from land degradation, according to China’s Ministry of Water Resources. Degradation including soil erosion, deforestation, salinity, reduced fertility and sand storms affects 3.56 million square kilometers and poses a threat to China’s future economic prosperity, the ministry warned.”

      Reading on, they are trying to combat it now, but they have had a history of degrading land - and that is not the only mention of it on the ‘net’. There are other sites too that reference the issue of land degradation and pollution (including water pollution) in China.

    • Reality Check says:

      12:41pm | 09/09/12

      Queensland Observer - The Chinese feed 1.2 billion people…Australia is struggling to feed 22 million. I will say it again, Australia has caused more damage to their land in 200 years through bad land management than what the Chinese have over 5,000 years…enough said.

    • George Katsadas says:

      06:45am | 08/09/12

      At least he is the only person in parliament who honest (which is why he always gets negative press) and he is the only person in parliament who demostrates any sort of patritism to this country.
      What we should be worried is that the ALP see Bill SHorten as the next leader (as we must agree with what they said or whatever they said)

    • Pete says:

      04:18pm | 08/09/12

      Joyce is a muddled populist who has completely made up his phony anti-intellectual bush persona. Apart from wading into one mistake after another, he is anti-evidence, anti-facts and bombastically emotional - funnily enough, that’s the kind of person he appeals to as well. If you’re into sentimentalist sound-bites with absolutely no substance underneath, he’s your man.  He has no substantive policies except for some vague National party protectionism - the kind that saw NZ almost go down the toilet under Muldoon. Worse than Hockey, fortunately he’s so bad the Liberal party won’t actually let him govern - they’ll move him out the way, just like Abbot did this week. These people are a world away from Menzies, and Turnbull for that matter.

    • Gary Cox says:

      06:58am | 08/09/12

      There could be three motivations Laurie. The third could be that Barnaby is standing up for his beliefs, something that lacks in a lot of politicians nowadays (think Julia gay marriage, Garrett uranium mining just to name a few).

      Barnaby can be a bit of a rabbit sometimes but you have to concede that he says what he thinks and brings a bit of passion to the job which I find refreshing.

    • Nathan says:

      07:01am | 08/09/12

      I don’t like Abbott but i do not think he is dumb, clearly he is not but Barnaby comes across as being slow. He has nothing to offer other than the occasional stupid remark. Can he not see going it alone alginates people and actually hurts his cause

    • Gordon says:

      08:06pm | 08/09/12

      alginate: artificial thickener made from pondslime and used to extend cheap processed food. I thought it was an autotext typo but the longer i think about Barnaby Joyce the more correct I think you were.

    • acotrel says:

      07:10am | 08/09/12

      ‘The possibility that Barnaby Joyce could become deputy prime minister in a coalition government suddenly has Liberals - quite a few of them, anyway - frothing at the mouth.’

      Well, that stuffs my theory !  I thought they were all total idiots.

    • acotrel says:

      07:13am | 08/09/12

      So now foreign investment is part of the election-winning xenophobia ?

    • thatmosis says:

      07:21am | 08/09/12

      Go Barnaby, its about time someone with the guts to tell it like it is was elected as Deputy PM. I will vote for him if possible as he has the publics ear and their fears.

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      10:47am | 09/09/12

      —he has the publics ear and their fears.—

      Indeed, such a pity brain isn’t in the mix

    • John T says:

      01:46pm | 09/09/12

      “tells it like it is” - you mean he affirms your own opinions? 

      And when it comes to fear Barnaby is using the oldest trick in the wing nut play book - find what people are afraid of, then tell ‘em who is to blame.

      “Tells it like it is”?  Oh my ears and whiskers.

    • Slouch Hat says:

      08:11am | 08/09/12

      Why not!  Any one who doesn’t want Cubie Statiion sold to a Chinese/Japanese consortium has my vote.
      Try buying land in China or Japan.

    • Alfie says:

      08:21am | 08/09/12

      “At the next federal election, there could be several three-cornered contests”

      Maybe not too, but I guess that would make less interesting reading…eh Laurie? Either way, Labor will be reduced to meeting in a phone box.

    • Ausbloke says:

      08:38am | 08/09/12

      They want our water, and all our high rainfall area farms,and they are main immigrants flooding in as well, somthing Barnaby will never mention.

      I think the establishment is just desperately playing for a few more years before it all falls apart and we become slaves, or are culled.  Such is life eh

    • FlyOnTheWall says:

      08:46am | 08/09/12

      So, basically Laurie, what you’re saying is that Joyce is a smart political operative… Pitty this can’t be said for the actual government, who operate at the student politics level.

    • David Rees says:

      09:21am | 08/09/12

      And he will make a damm good deputy PM too.                                      It will be nice to have a polly that puts Australia first .

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      09:28am | 08/09/12

      Will Barnaby be the next John McEwen who had the super power of being able to dictate to the Liberal Party who their leader aka Prime Minister should be?

    • Mack says:

      10:04am | 08/09/12

      At the moment, we have 3 ‘independents’ and 1 Green commie who have the super power and are able to dictate to the Gillard government (and is why we have a carbon tax), so what’s the difference, Mr Jordon?

      Bring on an Abbott and Joyce government - at least they may have some idea how to govern a country unlike the current crop of idiots.

    • Ben says:

      10:14am | 08/09/12

      I was thinking about old Black Jack myself the other day as I was passing through Chiltern. But in fairness to him, he genuinely believed that Billy McMahon was unfit to be PM, and I think history has vindicated that belief.

    • The Mind Boggles says:

      11:22am | 08/09/12

      “At the moment, we have 3 ‘independents’ and 1 Green commie who have the super power and are able to dictate to the Gillard government”

      Mack - I’m not sure Andrew Wilkie would agree with that.

      “Bring on an Abbott and Joyce government - at least they may have some idea how to govern a country”

      Emphasis on “they may have some idea” - That’s very debatable Mack.

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      02:33pm | 08/09/12

      @ Mack says: 10:04am | 08/09/12

      The commie as you call him is there purely on Liberal Party preferences.

    • Bruce says:

      10:09am | 08/09/12

      Again the intellectual narcissists are labelling the democratic majority who oppose foreign ownership of our assets and resources as populist and xenophobic when it may well be that those who assume superior intellect are really just traitorous and stupid. Certainly China wouldn’t be so stupid as to sell off such a valuable and vital national asset under the guise of economic rationalism but the intellectual traitors and cowards never label them populist or xenophobic.

    • Jarnaby Boyce says:

      10:30am | 08/09/12

      Shouldn’t this article be filed under satire?

    • SAm says:

      11:03am | 08/09/12

      frankly he should run for top least we know what he stands for and doesnt just talk in cliches, catchphrases or pre-prepared statements..other pollies of all sides can take not.
      Id vote for him

    • Chris L says:

      12:06pm | 08/09/12

      Joyce may be on to something. In that I mean he may find some success in parting ways with the party line. It worked for Abbott when he took a reverse stance to the party’s position on carbon pricing, so similar action may well work for Joyce.

    • Noely says:

      12:09pm | 08/09/12

      I am seriously sick of this whole 2 party business, it is not democracy.  Quite a few political journos in previous days have discussed this sale, Joyce, party unity etc. etc. yet, NOT ONE OF YOU has actually mentioned the fact that Joyce is actually representing his electorate?  Personally I do not like the man, he is supposed to be a Senator for the whole of Queensland and really only takes note of what his fellow farmers are interested in, BUT, in this case he is correct.  Most average people are also concerned about food security, and, particularly in Joyce’s backyard, you would be hard-pressed to find any primary producer who was happy about this sale, or is happy about foreign ownership.  These poor buggers have enough issues with Coles & Woolies squeezing the life out of them, they sure as hell do not want the chinese doing it as well.  Have a look at the local papers, since when was it the primary role of our elected representatives to push the agenda of what men in grey suits in a party want INSTEAD of what the people who elected them want?

    • Bruce says:

      02:17pm | 08/09/12

      Spot on Noely, the collective good sense of the democratic majority is sneeringly labelled populists by those whose “wisdom” is tainted by self interest and sophistry. Unfortunately, democracy in this country means the freedom of the minority to impose its will on the democratic majority.

    • Sirro says:

      12:18pm | 08/09/12

      Given that our current deputy PM is that complete blithering idiot Wayne Swan I can’t see why anyone would have any problems with Barnaby Joyce. He is an honest family many that has worked in the private sector, sticks up for his constiuents (Qld rural community), has taken a wafer thin election win and worked hard to develop a profile pushing legitimate issues that he sees are effecting the people of his country. Ok ,,.he sounds like a bushie, but that is because he IS.

    • Orris says:

      02:26pm | 08/09/12

      Except that there are plenty who realize that Barnaby Joyce is a complete blithering idiot. I can’t see why anyone would have any problems with Wayne Swan. He is an honest family many that has worked in the public sector, sticks up for his consttuents (entire Aust community), has taken a wafer thin election win and worked hard to develop a profile pushing legitimate issues that he sees are effecting the people of his country. OK,,.he sounds like a townie, but that is because he IS.

    • DJ says:

      01:06pm | 08/09/12

      I think Abbott is happy for Barnaby to be out their with the dog whistle keeping the Alan Jones audience happy. The problem with Barnaby is that he doesn’t actually achieve anything and rolls over in the end - Telstra anyone?

    • Kingy says:

      01:26pm | 08/09/12

      The guy is obviously not an idiot as his mother loves him and his push for a lower house seat at the expense of the sitting NP member is quite rational. If successful, it will obviously promote his erstwhile stagnating political career in the Senate and open many political doors for him. By the way, whatever happened to his mooted and hyped tilt at Tony Windsor’s seat in New England?
      As for him saying what he thinks - did you see him with Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Report tip toeing through the minefield of 19th century political values she thoughtfully insinuated he might like to address?
      Sometimes, he does appear to be a dill though - witness his ill-fated, mercifuly short stint as Shadow Finance Minister.
      His lack of shadow cabinet solidarity is a manifestation of his inability to be a team player and his disloyalty has harmed the Coalition this week happily dispelling the myth of it being of one purpose.
      So, like many others commenting today, I cordially invite Barnaby to speak out in a forthright manner on any topic he likes. I even begin to dare to think that one day he might might become the Deputy Leader of the Coalition thus ensuring it has a prolonged stint in Opposition.
      Go, Barnaby, go!

    • simply kev says:

      01:47pm | 08/09/12

      everyone knows that in Qld they like their politics straight forward, good and bad etc; Joyce had no choice, the chinese play big out that way and Cubbie is a embarrasent for the region, going broke and all, and Sirro he doesnt sound like a bushie to me mate, bushies are normally very measured in their statements and normally dont attend elite private school in sydney either, sounds more like the village idiot type i reckon

    • Gordon says:

      02:15pm | 08/09/12

      Regardless of Barnaby’s stupidity the real question should be why do we farm cotton and rice in Australia? When millions rely on the finite resource of water surely we should utilise it for more productive and efficient purposes that suits the Australian environment. Is Barnaby capable of articulating a sentence to this issue or does he only specialise in xenophobia?

    • GetRidOfCommies says:

      12:30pm | 09/09/12

      What are you on about Gordo? Water a finite resource?
      Last I checked the planet was 70% water. We should be farming more cotton and rice in Australia because there’s a big market for it. You greenie pinkos have a very limited understanding of the environment you claim to be in love with.

    • Gordon says:

      02:13pm | 09/09/12

      It is only September but I’m declaring your comment the most ignorant of the year, Getridoff. Do you believe Queensland should consume all the water that enters the Murray Darling Basin in their state for whatever stupid purpose they choose? Do you believe it is feasible to use desalination plants to pipe the water into the basin if all water is consumed? Or maybe wait a few months and hope for floods to put water into the system? Your selfish consume, consume and consume attitude may sound tough in a public bar but it highlights your stupidity.

    • GetRidOfCommies says:

      04:27pm | 09/09/12

      Ever heard of rain mate? It comes out of the sky and makes you wet. Some fell on me yesterday. It’s why we call water a renewable resource.

      This whole Murray-Darling basin is drying up is nothing more than a conspiracy by big government to take away farmers water rights. The Murray Darling Basin Authority is the very definition of big government.

      The government wants to seize ownership of water, they want to tax air.
      The world has gone absolutely insane.

    • Tator says:

      05:24pm | 09/09/12

      70% maybe, but of the 70% only 2.5% is fresh and of that 2.5%, 70% is locked away as ice and snow, leaving around .5% of the total water resources as fresh water in a liquid state.

    • GetRidOfCommies says:

      07:37pm | 09/09/12

      Wow, some peple just don’t get it.

      Firstly, that site you linked to looks like it is associated with the UN, which everyone knows misuses science in an attempt to start a one-world socialist government.

      Secondly, remember that thing I mentioned?? Rain??? It is always falling somewhere, always replacing the water that is being used. So basically we have infinity water. 0.5% of infinity is still infinity. This is basic mathematics and anyone who doesn’t understand that shouldn’t be speaking like they know what their talking about.

      This is why we pay through the nose for things like water and air these days. Because people have been tricked to believe in a scarcity that doesn’t exist.

    • acotrel says:

      02:15pm | 08/09/12

      Joyce has prattled on about ‘the national interest’, what he hould have said was ‘the NationalS’ interest !  Cubbie station is about water.  It holds the biggest licence along the Murray Darling, and accounts for ten per cent of Australia’s cotton crop.  Simple maths tells us tha t the Australian cotton crop uses ten times the total water used on Cubbie S tation.  A minute ago the Nats had the a rmers all fired up about the Murray Darlling Basin Management Plan, and the North South pipeline in Victoria.  It helped Ted Baillieu win the last election and depose the Brumby government.  The whinge was about ‘taking w ater away from the Goulburn Valley food bowl’ !  The fact is that most Victorian fruit and wine grape farmers work under strict quotas - they don’t have a big market.  If there was a glut the supermarkets with their monopolies would manipulate the market and screw the farmers . Selling Cubbie atation would hand contr ol of the water t o foreigners, and the game would change, away out of control of the Na tional party.  It is a ll bullshit and about winning elections by deceit ! We should do the stats and find out how much the cotton crop contributes to providing jobs and mon y in regional Australia, and decide the best use of the water.  Without Cubbie Station there would be no problem with environmental flows in the Murray River.

    • marley says:

      03:50pm | 08/09/12

      Acotrel - that is one of your most confused comments yet.  On the one hand, you seem to think it is in the national interest to control the Cubbie water licence rather than hand it over to foreigners.  But you criticise Joyce for not wanting to hand control of the licence over to foreigners.  So, you agree with Joyce’s point but disagree with him at the same time.  My head is reeling.  I think you’re opposing him not because you disagree with what he’s saying, but because he’s a Nat.  And frankly, that makes you even more one-eyed than I’d imagined possible.

    • Sam Scout says:

      02:49pm | 08/09/12

      Joe Hockey is a hyprocrite. He’s not transport minister but he speaks out about the second Sydney Airport.  Cubbie station is in Barnaby’s back yard - and a part of Qld that as a senator he represents - he is more than entitled to speak out about Cubbie.

      Can Australians buy land in China - no - so why should Chinese buy land in Oz. But it doesn’t stop there - why are soverigin investment funds from the middle east allowed to buy assets in Australia when they treat women like dirt.

    • Bear says:

      02:59pm | 08/09/12

      Only the lunatic fringe rate him, as proven by endorsement of only the most extreme bangers here! No chance in the real world.

    • David of the Grand Academy of Adelagado. says:

      03:50pm | 08/09/12

      We have short memories. When the drought was on, and all the talk was about the Murray drying up, hardly a day went by without Cubbie being blamed. Now we have a chance to keep total control of Cubbie and we virtually hand it over to a foreign government.

    • mark C says:

      06:51pm | 08/09/12

      While we had “complete control”  Cubbie were often accused of keeping the water to themselves. So"please explain” the difference.  Xenophobia reigns I guess.

    • Mike says:

      06:01pm | 08/09/12

      You lot also forget the mines.  China is buying up mines and Australia’s mineral wealth; places like Century and Golden Grove are ALREADY owned by China’s MinMetals Corporation.  A farm is no different to a mine in this case.

    • Gordon says:

      08:21pm | 08/09/12

      Well if we value these things so much why didn’t we invest in them ourselves? Cubbie was bought up cheap in bits by the original owner, then looked unsuccesfully for (local) buyers for years. Neither would have happened if local investment was stronger. Mining companies start by offering shares to the general public. Bought any?  Unless we are prepared to back and invest developing our own stuff someone else will. Sure “we already own” the water/minerals/soil, but it does no good until they are developed and producing…and that takes money…from somewhere.

    • Mike says:

      12:49am | 09/09/12

      Gordon, re: investing in mining companies, yes I do, personally - and not “speculative” Dad and Dave, two picks and a ute companies, and for the long term (seven years plus), so I truly do put my money where my mouth is.

      However, this, and things like “infrastructure” like this are the jobs for the big end of town (like your super funds, who have the sheer capital required to do so)

      That is the question - why did we not invest in them ourselves ?  There is a huge difference in “overseas investment” and “overseas ownership” because in China’s case, it is purely to make sure THEY are alright with respect to a resource, not us or anyone else.  If anyone thinks that China is buying farms, water, mines, resources etc., you are deluded.  If anyone is unfamiliar with the Chinese game “Go”, the objective is to capture the most territory.  The Chinese are playing a strategic game in the same way, to shore up resources for their own people, and it is no surprise that they wrote The 36 Strategies and The Art of War.  Most Western people just do not “get it” - success in business to Asian people is a war, not a sport.

      To china, this is not “generating a return on your money"by lending it (debt capital), it is ownership (equity capital), pure and simple.

      And that is the question you should all ask your local members and those you elect - “why the hell are we selling the cow instead of the milk ?”, because once you sell, it is very difficult to get control of it back ever again.

    • Joan says:

      08:49am | 09/09/12

      Gorden: Current government view is that of Third World governmant view of farmland.  sell off to richest foreign bidder.  Back in SMH 2009 report
      `THE ACQUISITION of farmland from the world’s poor by rich countries and international corporations is accelerating at an alarming rate, with an area half the size of Europe’s farmland targeted in the past six months, say reports from United Nations officials and agriculture experts. Rich countries snapping up farmland `
      Our government thinks like a Third World country when it comes to land, - sell it off.

    • Gordon says:

      10:44am | 09/09/12

      Hi Mike, I think the prob w/ Cubbie particularly is that it was over capitalised…so it owes more than it will ever generate.. at he current price it’s a dog in other words, and the locals in their hearts know it. I think the sale of water licences was badly thought through despite the best intentions at the time. I take your point about equity capital, but what good can it do them really? they can’t take it away, maybe they can build one of their empty apartment block ghost towns on it.  I’m sure vast tracts of Aussie land look like a good buy if you are wealthy and live in Chengdu, but really, what could they possibly do with it that is a problem? All they can do is exactly what “we” would do - farm it and sell whatever at the best price they can get.. It is still subject to Aust law, despite what some of the worriers have said.

      and good luck with the mining shares: stay low on the cost curve - strong winds ahead for high cost producers.

    • stephen says:

      08:23pm | 08/09/12

      He’s not a donkey cause donkeys don’t sit on the fence.

    • vox says:

      12:19pm | 09/09/12

      I would like to call upon the self-professed politically fine-tuned among us, (Dash, TimB, thatmosis, Joan,(?), and any other of the Abbott echoes), to solve a problem for me.
      Abbott is the Leader of the Opp.
      Bishop is the Deputy Leader of the Opp.
      Truss is the Leader of the Nats only.
      How would Barnaby Joyce dislodging Truss give him access to either the Deputy Leader of the Opp’s job, or to the Deputy P.M.‘s job in the event of a tragic change of Government.
      Abbott, who with good reason is extremely paranoid, refused to make Truss Dep. Leader of the Opp..
      He did however, again because of his paranoid instability,
      appoint Truss over Bishop as Acting Leader of the Opposition when he went to China in July. This was a short trip and would not have allowed Truss to enact any change in Abbott’s absence.
      Bishop however, an internal opponent, may have wrought great change in the time of him being away.
      Question… Who is the real Deputy Leader of the Opposition, (and the transitional Deputy P.M. in the event of a change), and why?
      That is the question.
      As an aside, if Joyce is a Queensland Senator so placed to look after the interests of “all” Queenslanders, why hasn’t he railed against Newman’s sacking of 15-20,000 workers “so as to create more jobs”? Or does Joyce only represent ‘some’ Queenslanders?

    • gnome says:

      05:01pm | 09/09/12

      It’s because the leader of the Nationals is appointed PM in a Lib/Nat coalition.  Think McEwen, Anthony, Vaile, Sharpe etc.  Nonentities, yes, but nonentities with a big title.

    • Roger says:

      12:45pm | 09/09/12

      So, what is really going on in China, perhaps the following throws some light on the subject?;
      Can we expect the importation of food from China into Australia to decline? It would appear not. The following appeared in ‘China Today’ in June of 2010:

      “The rise in some sectors has been so fast that it almost defies description,” said Scott Rozelle, Cheung Kong Scholar and guest professor at Beijing’s Renmin University of China. “Every two years China adds the equivalent of the vegetable production capacity of California. The cultivated area dedicated to fruit orchards is more than 5 percent, more than double the share of the next closest major agricultural nation, including the US, the European Union, Japan and India. There has also been a continuous and rapid rise in livestock and fisheries.”
      In March Premier Wen Jiabao announced plans to allocate 818.3 billion yuan for agriculture, farmers and rural areas, an increase of more than 93 billion yuan over last year, and said local governments would also increase their investment. He said the government would spend 133.5 billion yuan to subsidize agricultural production, a year-on-year increase of 6.04 billion yuan.’

      A couple of years ago it was estimated that just a 3% increase in horticulture in China would be sufficient to provide all Australia’s needs.

    • One of the Gordons says:

      02:00pm | 09/09/12

      This is a good comment. Southern China is so fertile & well watered it’s a garden by aust standards. Their Maoist days behind them they are speedily reorganising into more efficient production and will not be looking at some imaginative hostile occupation of a Qld cotton paddock anytime soon. We will be buying food from them for the same reason we buy TVs from them: Ppice & availability.
      They buy land as a reliable store of value…it’s their thang, and so would I if the choice was putting money in the Beijing stock exchange!.

    • Dr B S Goh, Australian in Asia says:

      03:49pm | 09/09/12

      Agriculturally China is a very productive country. China is basically self sufficient in food production. If China can tighten up its one child policy and apply it also to its Minorities it can survive the looming food crisis in Asia. In the last ten years China’s population increase by 74m and it is now 1.35 billion

      By the way an interesting side of your statement that just three percent increase in horticulture can feed vegs and fruits to Australia. Do you know that 3% of 1.35 billion equals 40.5 million more than Australia’s total population. Furthermore 2% of 1.35% equals 27m is also greater than Australia’s total population. In summary Australia is a very small country peoplewise !!

      The dangerous numbers are on the Indian subcontinent. India has 1,250,000,000 people, Pakistan has 177,000,000 and Bangladesh has 150,000,000. All of then are increasing rapidly, see for example India population grew from 450m in 1960 to 1250m in 2011 at

      On the other hand

    • Mik says:

      04:40pm | 09/09/12

      Chinese grown ag products are found in most Australian supermarkets.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      12:47pm | 09/09/12

      Are Australians allowed to buy up huge tracts of land in other countries - be they the US, UK, China, Brazil, Chad or Rwanda etc.?
      IF the answer is “YES”
      Then there are absolutely NO reasons why people from other countries should not be allowed to buy huge tracts of land here.
      IF the answer is “NO”
      Then nor should they be allowed to buy huge tracts of land here.
      Easy peasy!
      National MPs hold very tightly on to their seats so poor old Barney will have a job on his hands if he wants to unseat a sitting member or contest a seat not currently held. Mind you, with the ALP on the nose in QLD he might just stroll into Wayne Swan’s seat. What is it with Queenslanders? We had Joh (up to our necks) & now Barney.

    • Bananabender56 says:

      01:19pm | 09/09/12

      Why are we so concerned about the Chinese? Companies like Glencore and Xstrata are foreign owned and they own mines in Australia. I thought Cubbie was in receivership so any one who puts it back into profitable operation has to be encouraged. Anyway, if it all turns to poo and we don’t want the Chinese owning cotton farms we can always nationalise the industry.

    • John T says:

      01:43pm | 09/09/12

      I think it a wonderful idea.  Barnaby Joyce as Deputy Dawg to Tony Abbott.  3 years of that and Australians will be cured of right wing nut politics for at least a generation.  It would probably cause an implosion in both the Liberal and National parties.  Not a bad thing.

    • Roger says:

      01:48pm | 09/09/12

      Perhaps we should all ask ourselves what the answer is to the following press release? Why do we not invest in our own country. Why does China find Australia, agriculture attractive as an investment, when we don’t?:
      Australian mining investment in Africa more than $50 billion: DFAT
      February 14th, 2012
      Committed and planned investment by Australian companies in African resources projects is more than $50 billion, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Speaking at an event at the Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town on 7 February, Australian High Commissioner, Ann Harrap said that Australian resources companies have more projects in Africa than in any other region.
      “There are now at least 230 Australian companies with approximately 650 projects in mining exploration, extraction and processing, spread across 42 countries in Africa,” Ms Harrap said.

    • Evalee says:

      03:11pm | 09/09/12

      Please, no.  Barnaby in a position of true power would see Australia go backwards.  His ideas and ideals are not in line with a progressive and inclusive Australia.

    • nihonin says:

      04:25pm | 09/09/12

      ‘His ideas and ideals are not in line with a progressive and inclusive Australia.’

      For whom?

    • jj says:

      05:25pm | 09/09/12

      Barnaby represents the hayseeds in Australia.
      and they should have a voice, no matter how idiotic it is.


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