Barnaby’s second coming

A short recap

In February 2018 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was scheduled to go to the U.S., and he flagged that Mr Joyce would be acting Prime Minister in his absence. Unfortunately Mr Joyce was at that time embroiled in two personal crises, the first of which was the very public end of his marriage, caused by his affair with a staff member.

Of course these things do happen, but it is usually put down to a momentary loss of judgement, or at worst an existential panic about getting older. Mr Joyce behaved appallingly throughout, with not one single grace note to relieve the awfulness.

Firstly he humiliated his wife, and presumably his four daughters. No hiding away, to protect his family, from the public, or the press. No attempt to mend the fences he had demolished. Instead he explained that Canberra is a lonely place in the midst of winter. Cold comfort for his existing family, and presumably cold comfort for his new partner. No declarations of irresistible emotion, he even questioned the timing of the pregnancy, idly wondering if he was indeed the baby’s father.

Next came that television interview, for which he was paid $150,000. There was talk that it was against the rules for Parliamentarians to accept remuneration for appearing in the media, but that appeared to be overlooked, in all the mayhem.

Joyce and Ms Campion announced that lawyers were to establish a trust fund for their son, Sebastian, to set aside the $150,000 to pay for future expenses, like school fees. So the fruits of a questionable interview, with a questionable payment, were to be tax free, as well. Not only did he out himself as an unabashed adulterer, and a shameless opportunist, but he was free-loading on the tax system as well. Mr Hockey’s lifters and leaners, indeed.

His other problem was that he had been formally complained about, as a sexual harasser. The woman in question made the complaint anonymously, but the National Party leaked her name, and then in an act of stunning hypocrisy, decided that they could not uphold the allegation, for ‘lack of evidence’. Catherine Marriott travelled to Sydney twice, at her own expense, to lodge the complaint and to provide evidence.

In recent days a West Australian Labor Party MP has described how she was warned about keeping clear of Barnaby Joyce seven years ago “because he had a history of groping women”. Is there any wonder that women who have to deal with him have strong reservations? The complaint from Catherine Marriott remains unresolved.

Obviously in 2018 there was an uncomfortable confluence of events, and within a week Mr Joyce had resigned from the leadership of the National Party, and consequently lost his position as Deputy Prime Minister. He claimed that he left to ‘clear the air’.

Mr Joyce has a history of failure in Government. In 2018 Mr Joyce was found to be a dual New Zealand and Australian citizen. Under S44 of the Australian Constitution, he was obliged to resign from Parliament, and to re-contest his seat. He won the by-election, against low profile candidates, but nevertheless he improved his margin.

It would be reasonable to expect that Mr Joyce might have had the nous to check his eligibility. But no, he had several more struggles to contend with. At around this time he was found to be living, at no expense, in a friend’s apartment in Armidale. He declared the ‘gift’ of free rental, but again he was pilloried by the Press. He responded that he needed the assistance, because he was living on a reduced wage, of over $211,000 per annum. Admittedly he was supporting six children, and two households, but to most Australians he was earning a satisfactory type of wage.

Weighing it all up

He has been called the world’s worst ever Agricultural Minister. Amongst other debacles he ‘oversaw’ the Watergate purchase, of an entitlement to occasional floodwaters, for double the asking price. The seller was a company formerly connected to a cabinet colleague; it is now run by a Liberal Party donor. Mr Joyce denied any responsibility, notwithstanding the inconvenient truth, that he was the responsible Minister.

He has been condemned for moving the pesticides regulator from Canberra to his own electorate, at huge expense, and with no discernable upside. He has apparently saved Australia from an environmental hazard, by threatening to euthanase Johnny Depp’s small dogs. Primarily for this reason, he was presented with the 2015 Froggatt Award. Irony is not dead – the award is for protecting native animals and flora from invasive species.

In 2019 he completed his term as Special Drought Envoy, where he managed to spend $675,000 and ‘produced’ a report, sent by text messages, which the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was too busy to read. David Littleproud wrote to Parliament at the time, stating that no report had been produced.

These are just some examples of how genuinely he has been found wanting in his role as a Parliamentarian, and as a Cabinet Minister. Think of an issue, and he will have likely taken the renegade position, and as likely as not, reversed his stance at some point.

He has now made an unexpected return to the position, to all the pomp and ceremony he is not really fit for, with not a dark thought appearing to cross Mr Morrison’s brow. There are said to be other allegations in the pipeline, especially within various Rural Women’s Associations.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has recently been discovered to be renting out a four-bedroom house with a pool in Tamworth for $625 a week. He failed to declare the rental income to Parliament for months, until contacted by He just struggles with the everyday duties and tasks.

It is plain that he sees himself as a born leader, and his recent successful tilt at the leadership of the National Party, after the ignominy of the past years, has not dampened his ardour for a life at the top. It must be said that if this man can win a leadership ballot, then it is a crook political party, and it is now led by a donkey.

Morrison Government uses kids as pawns

This week we have seen the Government tie itself in knots, as it tries to find a balance between torturing children, and on the other hand, not torturing them. The situation has become so grave that the Government has called on one of its own, a former paediatrician no less, to say that being a little bit cruel to small children and their parents is possibly all right, as long as it serves the greater good, and does not raise the expectations of the “thousands of other families” in a similar situation.

At least that is what I took from Katie Allen’s interview with Fran Kelly on the radio this morning. She was very careful not to overstep the mark, but she was at least a moderating voice, when compared to the macho posturing of most of the Ministry. She did concede that her electorate cares about this family, and so her exposure here might be clever reading of the wind’s direction.

She further believes that the eight weeks sanctuary, provided under duress by the Minister, is somehow heaven sent. That is the time required for four-year-old Tharunicaa to recover. But what to do with them after the eight weeks? Dr Allen did not know. And neither does the Government. Perhaps when Scott finishes embarrassing us all and returns to home shores he will provide us with a win-win solution.

This dilemma is entirely an own goal from the Government. Did they think that we had all gone to sleep, that we did not remember the tale of the ‘Biloela Family’? This standoff could have been easily defused years ago, but Morrison, or Dutton, the ghostly Coleman or even Tudge (all Immigration Ministers) could all have had a go at doing the right thing, and choosing not to use a couple of helpless children as pawns in a tasteless form of messaging to the dreaded people smugglers. It is also a handy ‘wedge’ for the hapless ALP.

Mr Littleproud distinguished himself by referring to those who disagreed with the Government’s hard line position. In his opinion they were little more than a ‘mob’. Mr Littleproud represents a very different electorate. Not the quiet tree-lined streets of Melbourne’s Higgins, but the safest Nationals seat in the country, Maranoa in Queensland. He has a 22% margin to gamble with, so he can afford to be a little abrasive. Or can he? This non-decision is superficially popular, but miserable and mean. Save the family for eight weeks, and then send them away, to who knows what …

Of course the right wing is up in arms. The parents were not genuine refugees, and so they should not have had the children. Were the children examples of “anchor babies” so feared by former Minister, Peter Dutton? He used the term to describe these very children. It seems his influence is long lasting, and as ever, corrosive.

What does Mr Hawke offer in the way of guidance? On Tuesday the government announced the rest of the family would be moved to Perth, where they will be held in community detention while legal matters are ongoing. Presumably they will be shipped out of the country if their last legal bids fail.

The situation for the Murugappan family is that they have so far lost eight court cases, and that there are two more pending. These cases will decide the fate of the family.

The Department of Home Affairs relies heavily on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s country information report on Sri Lanka to decide whether to give permanent protection to Tamil asylum seekers.

The current (2019) report says: Sri Lankans face a low risk of torture on a day-to-day basis. In the case of individuals detained by the authorities, DFAT assesses the risk of torture to be moderate. Where it occurs, some mistreatment may amount to torture. DFAT assesses that Sri Lankans face a low risk of torture overall.

So there is a good chance they will be mistreated, with occasional lapses into outright torture. This will probably NOT be on a day to day basis, however. Will Australia intervene if the “mistreatment” extends to the children, or will we lose interest, because they are outside our narrow view?

The British Government, through the Upper Tribunal, has now stopped relying on this report, because of its shoddy research and unfounded conclusions. So Australia continues to use a discredited report, to justify its ‘sort of sunny’ judgement on Sri Lankan conditions for Tamil refugees, which even the U.K. Government believes is unreliable.

What century do these people live in? The adults arrived in 2012 and 2013, met and married in Australia, and have had two children here. Their local community in Biloela, a country town in Queensland, supports their staying, as do many Australian voters. The Government, and the Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, maintain the line that allowing this family to stay in Australia will immediately unleash the people smugglers to lay siege to Australia’s borders.

How far can we go in degrading people who arrived by boat? Some unkind souls might even think that the lack of timely medical treatment is indicative of a studied attitude of indifference, even malevolence, to the family, and indeed all the other unlawful maritime arrivals (UMAs) in our ‘care’.

Just another case of the Government playing to the lowest common denominator in Australians’ minds. Fear of the unknown, and a too easy acceptance of what was a patently fabricated lie, which suggests if you feel, or show compassion to asylum-seekers, you not only accept drownings at sea, but you encourage them. Please save us from these people.

Booing Adam Goodes was disgraceful

Some perspective on our beautiful game

In VFL/AFL football there is a time honoured tradition of the crowd being vocal during matches. Most of the watchers know the game, many have played the game, or aspired to do so. Many who watch, or listen, know the intricacies of the game, and how demanding and merciless it can be. Many consider it a game which requires extreme courage to play it, and it is seen as being a test of the character of the players.

Many consider the game to be peerless amongst football codes, because as it has evolved it has retained its high level of physicality, it has if anything become inescapable in the scrutiny of its players, and it is relentless in the level of competitiveness between the clubs. This is replicated throughout the AFL states.

Elite football does not exist without the non-elite, players of all levels of ability, striving for excellence, and tales of the gifted country footballer still resonate, because those young men, and women, do occasionally turn up, often from country towns, but also from the city, or wherever the game is played, and display heroic capabilities. State that someone played one game and most of us are still in awe of such an achievement. And the game has been played for so long now that it has its own history, with its own legends and myths.

Every country town last century boasted a footy team, and its companion, a netball team. These days many of the women who would have played netball now embrace women’s football. Many towns have the footy ground, with its four posts at either end, and somewhere close by, a netball court. It’s Australia, mate.

Football demands, above all else, commitment. The kids who are seen with a football constantly in their hands, grown men wearing their team’s colours in public, the answer to the question “Who do you barrack for?”

Those who have played at the highest level often note the level of noise at a game, the oohs and aahs of the watching crowds, the sheer numbers who attend games. This vocal quality often had a tinge of humour attached, as when Val Perovic, a Carlton player, kicked the ball. He could kick it a ‘country mile’, the crowd would erupt, shouting “woof” whenever he sent a long left footer out of defence. Shouting “woof” was a joy on a Saturday afternoon, back in the 80s, along with 30,000 other lunatics.

There have been others, of course, but always within the spirit of the game. Roy Cazaly was cheered every time he went for a mark, where the crowd roared “Up there, Cazaly”. Passionate commitment, from all, until the siren sounded. And then the most appealing part of our game; families and friends, or even strangers, supporting opposing teams, walking away without conflict, immediately after games, because the game is over. No barbed wire, no armed police, no segregation of opposing fans.

Adam Goodes is a true champion

In recent times, however, there has arisen a really ugly addition to our beautiful game. Adam Goodes, a true giant of the game, was driven from the field of battle by opposition fans, mainly fully grown adults, actually booing him. People who were not fit to lace his boots actually demeaned our game with this behaviour.

His record is huge. Two Brownlow Medals, two premierships, All Australian four times, he played 372 games. Not one. Three hundred and seventy two! If not hounded from the game, who is to say if he would have reached the magical number of 400 games?

There was a sinister reason for the booing, however. It was simple racism, tinged with jealousy and envy. Goodes had called out racist language in a couple of games, and in an act of defiance one night, he performed a short version of an Aboriginal ‘war dance’ at a section of the crowd which had been booing him mercilessly. Some of them actually called his gesture “intimidating”, although he was a lone black man, being publicly vilified by thousands. He had just scored another inspiring goal, by the way.

Boo. It is a stupid word, which describes a stupid act. “Booing is an act of showing displeasure for someone or something, generally in response to an entertainer, by loudly yelling boo! (and holding the “oo” sound) or making other noises of disparagement, such as hissing.” Wikipedia.

Wow. I took a straw poll last weekend, and I could not find one person who admitted to booing, ever. Some expressed the free speech argument, though that is a false equivalence. Booing caused a modern master of our game to retire, prematurely, because the weight of the crowd was too much.

Booing is for babies.

You boo when you are watching Punch and Judy shows. That is the only acceptable use of the act of booing, and it should be discontinued when you attain school age. If you continue to exhibit this behaviour, you are suffering from arrested development, and you need help.

Adam Goodes left the game, and he has never attended any function related to the game, since his retirement. Now that is a crying shame.

Adam Goodes was today voted unanimously into the Australian Football Hall of Fame as part of its 2021 intake but he has rejected entry. June 8, 2021

This post was corrected to include news of Adam Goodes’ refusal of a place in the AFL Hall of fame.

Morrison has made a Faustian deal with the cabinet

Australians have never seen the like of this Government before, precisely because of the unlucky convergence of two unique circumstances. The first is Scott Morrison’s relentless ambition, and the second is the sycophantic, supine nature of his governmental colleagues.

Scott Morrison has become a scourge on this democracy. His anti-social and ideologically driven policies have generally only been spasmodically opposed by some of the cleverer Laborites, but mainly by the independents in Canberra. His so-called Cabinet Ministers act more like a team of obedient assistants, rather than the dedicated professional policy makers they should be.

Australians pride themselves on an egalitarian, larrikin spirit of individualism, but a collective apathy has overtaken the people. When Morrison ran for the Prime Ministership, we congratulated ourselves for ‘dodging a bullet’, in the figure of Peter Dutton. By now we all know that was a false victory. What we got with Morrison was much worse than the alternative.

Dutton reminds me of the cartoon figure, Dick Dastardly, described by Wikipedia as a “fictional, villainous anti-hero”. In that characterisation, Dutton does regularly play to the ‘peanut gallery’ with his outrageous displays of supposedly tone-deaf utterances, but as with Dick Dastardly, he is more comic-book than evil. And his ‘administration’ of the Home Affairs Department was so inept, that he proved there is nothing to fear. His major act as Defence Minister has been to cancel ‘woke’ morning teas, so the Chinese People’s Army better wake up to itself!

Morrison on the other hand, is suffused with a shape-shifter’s amorality, with seemingly no beliefs, no principles, and total shamelessness. His acceptance of Andrew Laming returning to the Liberal fold demonstrated his contempt for parliamentary or even moral standards, but also a withering scorn for Australian voters. He must genuinely believe that we have no memories, or at least no capacity to judge, and no expectations of our governments.

His professed Christianity is not rooted in any reputable church’s history, but it is a confected import from the U.S. Traditional Christians in Australia are continually being confounded by his apparent lack of charity, or compassion, or common decency. But his branch of Christianity does not espouse these qualities.

Instead it basks in dog eat dog competition, as in the gospel of rich versus poor; it revels in a narrow orthodoxy because mankind is seen as not being fit to exercise free will and moral choices; it reads the Bible as literal truth because it presents a simplistic view of the world, one that is more than two thousand years out of date.

It believes in the duality of the world, divided between the Prince of Light, and the Prince of Darkness. This appeals to the uneducated who feel cast off and left behind by the modern world, and it has provided a handsome living for those who have latched on to the scam. Many of those leaders traditionally end up in jail, or disgraced, when their misdeeds are uncovered.

Matters as important as the status of women are settled, in that women are at best help-meets, and never equals. The Pentecostal and its stable-mates on the evangelical right are designed for, and sold to, white males of a certain cast of mind, and Scott Morrison fits the mould.

His treatment of asylum seekers when he was Minister for Immigration and Border Protection was so clinically and morally harsh that 300 of his schoolmates from Sydney Boys’ High School were compelled to write an open letter objecting to his speaking at a fund-raiser at the school. They were ashamed of him.

His apparent obsession with punishing the asylum seekers led him to re-open Christmas Island, so that he could rain hellfire on them, again. That was fully five years later. He was now Prime Minister, and his anger was re-ignited because he thought their struggles with physical and mental health issues were, not imaginary, but confected. After five years, in a badly run gulag, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

That is not to mention the hapless Sri Lankan family he has imprisoned on Christmas Island, for years. Don’t think that ‘Dick Dutton’ calls those shots; Morrison controls the members of his Government as if they were toys.

We are all too polite, in a typically Australian way, to call him out for his authoritarianism, his miserable, penny pinching nature, his weird set of beliefs, his sociopathic pursuit of his enemies. It is no wonder that the ABC is running scared, and the rest of the media, if that is what we call it, is either controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his own brand of puppets, or by Channel 9. It is definitely no surprise that Morrison has had such a run with the Australian public.

So are we just unlucky enough to have scored this dangerous person, at this moment in time? Not at all. He studied Trump’s post-truth regime, and he saw that, if enough of the people are apathetic, or ill-educated, or fed lies on a constant basis, he might just get away with it.

Recent failures in quarantine and the vaccine rollout have seen his self-assurance wobble. The Victorian Labor Government applied some heat to Morrison, and he has retreated. This might be the way to attack this incompetent one man band. Actually challenge them, and then even the Murdoch press has to deal with the public disenchantment. Hopefully Australian voters wake up before we sleep-walk into another Coalition government.

Morrison dropped the ball on his two jobs

The failure of leadership in Australia has been demonstrated, once again, by the mis-steps of our so-called leaders. They then exacerbate the problem by not owning their mistakes, and blindly asserting, against all the evidence, that they are following ‘medical advice’. They pick which pieces of medical advice suit them. This is like saying “God told me to do it”.

Morrison and Hunt had two jobs between them

Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt had just two jobs to do. The pandemic had been weathered, the people were feeling safe and even trusting. The dynamic duo merely had to manage the return of Australians stranded overseas, and as a final grace note, to get everyone vaccinated.

We all know their repeated refrain that they don’t even eat breakfast until it is cleared by ‘medical experts’. So it is almost impossible to believe that they have not acted on the desperate need to build dedicated quarantine facilities, rather than to rely on often second rate hotels for quarantine. As every premier and every health officer, in all the states, continually remind us, the hotels are for tourists. They are not quarantine stations.

If we can afford to send Matthias Cormann jet-setting around the globe on his very own VIP jet, we can afford to build some quarantine hubs. Equally, if we can afford to spend $600 million on a great white elephant, a gas fired power station, we can afford to build quarantine hubs.

They don’t need to be luxurious. I once worked in Dampier in W.A. and the accommodation was cheap, but it separated the workers, and if needed, it kept us away from the town. Job done. These villages are everywhere in the outback, some even abandoned, if the mine has closed up, and moved along. How hard would it be to find some workers’ huts, and move them? Or if it is too difficult to find some, build some of our own!

Is Morrison doing everything?

The Victorians have even done the preliminary research, scoping out the best sites. All the Feds had to do was to evaluate the site(s) and proceed, or reject the proposal. But no – the Morrison Cabinet is very different from any I can recall. It is not run like a boardroom, but more like a mediaeval court, with Morrison seemingly dictating policy, ministerial responsibilities, their daily talking points, even the colour of their ties. So he hedged, daily. The best we have seen is that it might be worth considering.

Consider the fact that no Minister ever disagrees with Morrison. No Minister appears to have any original thoughts; they all just go along with the ‘group-think’. So if Morrison is too tied up with all the scandals he daily deals with, perhaps he was too busy to make a decision on quarantine hubs.

We have plenty of evidence that ‘Morrison from Head Office’ is not a great planner, nor does he last very long in his jobs. He has been known to ‘absent himself’ when he feels like it, and the practical day to day stuff often escapes him. Maybe the ministry has picked a dud to follow?

We still have many thousands of Australian citizens stranded overseas. They have a right of return, and whether they are in India or Scotland, we want them back, safely. So what possible reason for the hold up?

If everyone was vaccinated, we would still need quarantine hubs

Recent developments in previously virus-free countries have again proved that this virus is here to stay. Taiwan and Singapore have recently let down their guard, and they have been swamped. Now it looks like the same is happening here. A leak from Adelaide (quarantine) moves to Melbourne, then it moves to southern New South Wales. Where next?

Part B of the optimum plan would be, by overwhelming consensus, vaccinate everyone you can. The results in the U.S. and the U.K. have been miraculous. We forget the horrifying numbers from last year, but they are possible even here, especially with the dangerous variants now arriving. So vaccination is key to long-term protection.

Here is where this badly led, banana republic we call home, decides that, firstly we will wait and see. What were they looking for – a better price? So we missed out on the first batches of vaccines, and then we put all our eggs in the one AstraZeneca basket, and we went to market late. A first year purchasing officer would know that you should diversify your suppliers, so as not to be disappointed when you definitely need the supply.

Another of the reasons for such a rookie failure is that, because of this Government’s war on the Public Service, we have a multi-national contractor ‘handling’ the supply and distribution of the vaccine. What could go wrong with a multi-million dollar contractor not having any experience in something as tiresome as purchasing stuff, and then distributing it? Scotty from the Office, who does not hold a hose, doesn’t buy vaccines, and it seems neither does his fancy contractor.

The next ‘joke’ in this farce is the Government decided that “it is not a race”, kept to that position for four months, until it was actually a race. As per Government policy, even after the Victorian outbreak, Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister, was on auto-play, repeating the line about there being no race, and so was Dan Tehan, our Trade Minister. One or other of them then explained the difference between a race and a hurry, I think.

They may still be in awe of his last election victory, but let us not forget he sits on the thinnest of margins. So for whatever reason, Morrison declares policy, and he sends various Ministers out to spread the word. We can only hope that the Premiers can save this country, because the no-hopers in power in Canberra could not organise a trip to the lavatory.