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.
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.
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Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey today publicly rebuked his Nationals front-bench colleague Barnaby Joyce for opposing the sale of Cubbie Station to Chinese interests.
Mr Hockey, a Liberal, said Senator Joyce wasn’t speaking for the Coalition, and not even representing the policy of his own party. He was just “freelancing”.
Barnaby Joyce, who says he represents the wisdom of the Dirranbandi pub, has a record of saying things which don’t always fit neatly with the policy guidelines set by his urban Coalition partners. It could be patience with his self-promotion and positioning is running short.
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The Nationals proved they did not know how to deal with Tony Windsor in 1991 and 2001, and in 2012 they appear to be working vigorously to entrench the trend.
It’s not certain Mr Windsor, 61, will contest the election scheduled for late next year, but the Nationals are operating on the basis that he will, and in desperation have gone outside their own ranks to compete with him.
Richard Torbay, a former ALP member who currently is an independent state MP will become a National to contest Mr Windsor’s seat of New England. Cop that Barnaby.
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Australian politics at the moment is a strange sort of Wonderland. It’s filled with odd characters – some weird, some slightly sinister – and it’s all more than a little bit nonsensical. Some voters are stamping their feet in frustration at the stupidest tea party they’ve ever been to, while the more violently inclined are calling for decapitation.
In the most recent chapter, Greens Leader Bob Brown disappeared back up the rabbithole, sidelined Labor MP Craig Thomson’s alleged adventures have shrunk his stature significantly, while Liberal-turned-Independent Speaker Peter Slipper’s problems seem to be experiencing unstoppable growth.
Yesterday mining magnate Clive Palmer announced he wants to join the party. He wants to challenge Treasurer Wayne Swan in a battle that seems to have just a whiff of the personal about it – Swan and he have been engaged in a war of words over the mining tax and the role of billionaires in public life.
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I was sitting with some friends and students in the outer western suburbs of Sydney the other day. We were chatting about the High Court’s decision on the Malaysia Solution and offshore processing of refugees.
The general feeling was that it was about time someone demanded that Australia meet its international obligations and stop dumping them onto other countries. While there was not much sympathy for Gillard, nor was there any support for Tony Abbott’s posturing.
Someone actually quoted their Greek grandmother, who compares Greeks and Italians - saying, “they are the same, but different”. My question: “Would you vote for Tony Abbott if an election was held tomorrow?” was met with a resounding ‘no’. So is Gillard finished?
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If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering with trepidation what will happen when the Gaypocalypse finally strikes.
Are fudge-packers, nancy-boys, and pillow-biters all names for the same thing, or do they signify a hierarchy of types and sizes, like orcs? Which are most dangerous? And where do the Poohole Pirates come in? Are they like the Men of Harad?
What about elephants? Will there be elephants? Will they be pink? Will we be forced to toil in underground sequin mines while Freddy Mercury lashes us with moustachioed falsetto arpeggios? And dear God, why didn’t we listen to Fred Nile?
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Let’s get a bunch of things straight, right from the top.
Yes, Julia Gillard lied. Yes, the carbon tax won’t make a bee’s dick worth of difference in reducing global emissions. Yes, people in a robust democracy like ours are entitled to hold a peaceful rally anywhere they like.
Now for one more indisputable fact. Today’s carbon tax rally was a freak show. Worse, it was woefully unrepresentative of the millions of everyday Australians who have genuine concerns about this tax. Here are eight reasons why.
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Acting ability is not a prerequisite to land the leading role in political office, but if past experience shows, it can help sometimes.
Take, for example, the late Ronald Reagan. Reflecting on his career change and ascent to the top job in the White House, he once said, “I’ve often wondered how some people in positions of this kind … manage without having had any acting experience”.
Perhaps Tony Abbott would rather not model himself on Reagan, but it seems he has different ideas about what it takes to become prime minister.
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Barnaby Joyce dug himself so much deeper into his I wipe my bum with the productivity commission hole today that it’s in danger of collapsing in on top of him.
The ABC’s Samantha Hawley this morning took apart the new opposition regional development and water spokesman limb by limb in an interview on AM.
You can listen to it here. Warning, you might be hiding under your desk by the end.
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This morning’s Channel 10 news debate between Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and his Opposition counterpart Barnaby Joyce was the first time the two have gone head to head since Joyce took up the job.
The clash was a good example of how a political debate can appear one way in Canberra and unfold in another when it comes time for people to actually tune in.
To give a cricketing analogy, Tanner has won the test match of a parliamentary sitting fortnight but Joyce just won the higher rating Twenty 20.
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Ahhh, now we get it. Lindsay Tanner is smarter than that “freak show” Barnaby Joyce.
In case we didn’t get the message in parliament last week (we can be a bit slow sometimes) Mr Tanner spelled it out again on Meet the Press on the weekend. Not only is Senator Joyce “off the planet”, his team mate Joe Hockey is a “lightweight”.
Yesterday in parliament he repeated the lesson again for those who’d wagged the last one or drifted off while doodling on our pencil cases. Mr Hockey is “out to lunch”, and again he filled us in on Barnaby. According to Mr Tanner, Senator Joyce is evidence of “a very big question mark over the leader of the opposition’s judgment for appointing him in the first place.”
For someone who’s so much smarter than his counterpart, Mr Tanner seems to have skipped the chapter in Politics for Dummies called “Australians don’t like smug politicians who reckon they’re smarter than everyone else.”
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Barnaby Joyce’s move to clarify he is not in a homoerotic relationship with Tony Abbott is the latest example of politicians taking us somewhere we just don’t want to go – into the bedroom.
Following hot on the heels of Tony Abbott’s foray into the ‘gift’ of virginity, Joyce’s gaffe unnervingly suggests that the Coalition has things other than the management of the national economy on their mind.
For Australians, politicians are a bit like our parents – we innately accept that while they probably have sex, we would rather not confront the fact.
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Well what can I say about the first parliamentary week as shadow finance minister?
Tony wanted a speech and I delivered it at the Press Club. It would not have mattered if the speech had categorically disproved the theory of relativity, the issue would be the slip and when the question came where I had to, on my feet and in my head, quickly add up Labor party expenditure via MYEFO for the next four years, I said billion when I should have said trillion.
In that split second my head said trillion my heart said you have got to be joking that is enormous. My head was right but the result is for all to see on YouTube.
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For a politician who prides himself on his relationship with Australian voters, Barnaby Joyce’s comments this week on foreign aid are, frankly, un-Australian.
Senator Joyce used a speech at the National Press Club yesterday to suggest that $50 million in aid that will help people with little or no food in poor countries deal with rising food prices should instead be spent on lowering food prices in Australia.
This year Australia’s foreign aid spending will total just $3.8 billion – or only about 0.35 per cent of our gross national income. That’s 35 cents in every $100. In the context of the Australian Government’s overall budget, we’re talking about a very small amount. Our Government has enough money to fund this, while also spending on essential services here.
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Dylan fans will be familiar with the stream of consciousness liner notes on the back sleeve of Highway 61 Revisited where the Zimmer-man writes of Savage Rose and Fixable and the Cream Judge and the Clown, of Lifelessness saving the world, of the Phony Philosophers and the Beautiful Strangers.
I was compelled to re-read this unusual piece of writing this week after subbing an opinion piece written by Barnaby Joyce and have decided that if Dylan has a literary heir in this country it is the newly-installed shadow minister for finance.
Joyce has now written seven opinion pieces for our website The Punch and the marvellous thing about all of them is that you could buy a pack of Gitanes, slip into your skivvy and beret, and recite random passages aloud in a Soho coffee shop with Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue playing in the background, and the critics would hail you as the greatest beat poet since Ginsberg.
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In 21 days, the Senate will vote on the Government’s climate change legislation that will – for the first time ever – turn the corner on rising carbon pollution in Australia.
This means Malcolm Turnbull has 21 days to get his party into shape on climate change.
We have seen a diverse parade of positions from the Liberal Party on climate change this week, not to mention the views put forward by their coalition partners in the National Party.
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UPDATE 7:30 PM The Coalition has not agreed to a vote on the alcopops legislation in this sitting, so the earliest it can be approved is August. Yes the ridiculous dance of the alcopops goes on for another few months.
While the Opposition has been struggling with utegate it has quietly embarked on a big policy backflip.
Not because the policy itself is major but after almost a year of calling this 70% tax increase on alcopops the Great Satan the Opposition – or at least some of them - have decided to pass the tax.
Hopefully today there will be a vote on the alcopops tax and it will end this painfully long saga, whose ability to dominate national debate has merely highlighted how seriously we take getting pissed.
Leader of the National Party in the Senate Barnaby Joyce has told The Punch that no Nationals Party Senator will be voting for the tax and that one of his main considerations will be the Bundy drinking and producing voters of Queensland.
“No National Party Senator will be voting for the tax. That means abstaining or crossing the floor. We don’t want a bun fight over it, but we won’t vote for it.”
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Hooray for Barnaby Joyce. I don’t actually agree with much the Nationals Senate leader has to say, but at least he’s saying it in an interesting way.
In the political realm, he’s like a splash of bright puke-yellow on a beige lino floor.
In the daily ambush at the doors of Federal Parliament, where all the main players either try to slip through with a wan smile or stay resolutely “on message”, Joyce was asked about a survey that showed people think PM Kevin Rudd’s a massive tantrum-chucker. “The guy’s a psycho chook,” Joyce said.
“Who in their right mind gets onto a plane and because he doesn’t get the right colour birdseed has a spac attack?”
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Take note Lleyton Hewitt - the phrase “spac attack” is now on the banned list. And while he’s normally the kind of bloke who would rail against political correctness, it’s National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce who agreed to put it there.
Joyce will tonight apologise on television for saying Kevin Rudd had thrown a “spac attack,” after the Spastic Centre called on our political leaders to stop using the word “spastic” as a term of abuse.
“I would like to blame ‘Kylie Mole’ from the 1980’s Comedy Company but I should have understood the derivation of this word,” he told The Punch yesterday afternoon. “I generally can not stand political correctness but this definitely deserves an exception.”
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