Tag Archives: Nationals

Barnaby Joyce – a faulty work in progress

Barnaby has already attained high office

Many outstanding politicians are remembered for doing something special for their country, or perhaps for a lifetime of sustained effort for the country’s benefit. Barnaby Joyce was named “Australia’s best retail politician” by another politician – one Tony Abbott. Now that endorsement does muddy the waters somewhat, but a reference is a reference.

He has also ‘served’ as Deputy Prime Minister of the country, which in itself is an achievement. It also illustrates the point that our system elevates the leaders of political parties to positions that are sometimes way beyond their capabilities. Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce are two such examples, and it also points to the problem of having a junior coalition partner. The leader of the National Party automatically becomes Deputy PM if the coalition is in power. That is preposterous, but true.

Dodging a bullet

In February 2018 Malcolm Turnbull was scheduled to go to the U.S. and he flagged that Mr Joyce would be acting Prime Minister in his absence. Obviously that was an unacceptable choice, and Barnaby was sent on a week’s leave instead. He was undergoing much inner turmoil at the time, so it was probably for the best. We dodged a bullet there.

Look at the big picture

If we take a long hard look at Barnaby’s career one struggles to find the signature ‘big’ achievement. He does have a singular talent for making outlandish statements, which immediately gathers media attention, and he has made something of a reputation for speaking the ‘unvarnished truth’. This has been gradually whittled away, mainly due to his own efforts, where onlookers or listeners are often left questioning whether he is affected by drink, or perhaps having a psychotic break of sorts.

The radio interview with Patricia Karvelas springs to mind, listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbDRbwdr1V0. You could also see his his Facebook post late last year, where he told us “I just don’t want the government any more in my life, I am sick of the government being in my life.” He also told us “There’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky. And unless we understand that that’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools. We’re going to get nailed.” So he has retained his Christian faith, if not his credibility.

Looking back on his career is interesting. As most of us acknowledge, that one, big moment where he achieved something cannot be found. He has a ‘blooper reel’ of legendary proportions, however. It could be argued that he has been forever oafish, but not particularly harmful. Jenna Price, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, thinks otherwise https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/barnaby-joyces-other-betrayal-20180209-h0vurf.html And if we look back, why are we paying him? What was his electorate thinking? Even excluding his shambolic private life, his contrary position on almost every aspect of Australian life, his appalling waste of public money, his relentless search for relevance, his stalking of his leader, his pronouncements, his seeming lack of accountability. He holds a parliamentary record, of sorts: Crossing the floor, or deserting his party.

Weighing it all up

He has been called the world’s worst ever Agricultural Minister. He has overseen the Watergate purchase, of illusory floodwaters, for close to double the asking price. He did say that his department made the decisions; he was absent, or distracted? He has been pilloried for moving the pesticides regulator from Canberra to his own electorate, at huge expense and no upside. He has apparently saved Australia from an environmental hazard, by threatening to euthanase Johnny Depp’s small dogs. 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 was too busy to read.

These are just some examples of how genuinely useless he has been, over a number of years. Think of an issue, and he will have taken the renegade position, and as likely as not, later he usually reverses his stance. It is plain that he sees himself as a born leader, and his recent tilt at the leadership of the National Party proves that he is completely lacking in self-awareness. He has recently launched a podcast, called Weatherboard and Iron, with Matt Canavan. Perhaps he sees a career in the media for himself.

On reflection one achievement does stand out. It has received bi-partisan support, it led to an improvement in parliamentary standards, and it has made us all sleep soundly at night. That would be the ‘bonking ban’. I will always thank Barnaby for being the catalyst for that change in our national landscape.

Barnaby goes off, again

February 24: In response to several days of media silence about Barnaby Joyce, he decided that enough was enough. The Australian people were being denied the spectacle of Barnaby going off, so Barnaby did what he does best, he ‘went off’. Watch it here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=196289058127609

In further developments the people of Tamworth have been asked to recall him, as he is now seen as a danger to himself, and to the Coalition at large.

The Australian Labor Party are holding a prayer breakfast on Thursday morning, to thank God for Barnaby. No-one has ever made Joel Fitzgibbon look so good before.

Has Morrison had an Epiphany?

Did Scott Morrison Need to Change His Ways?

Has our Prime Minister improved in his demeanour since the bushfire crisis? Has he reflected on the community’s assessment of his character, and decided that he needs a make-over, or a session of barnacle removing, a la Tony Abbott? Is it possible for him to change the dismissive, arrogant, my way or the highway approach, especially towards journalists, who are only asking him questions because we want them to.

His first efforts were hopeless.

Ever since he returned from his ill-conceived holiday in Hawaii, he has been traversing some difficult ground. Generally and sincerely disliked on his return, his first steps into the unknown territory of regret were badly managed, and to many his words were betrayed by his seemingly innate contempt for open conversations, and an inability to accept criticism.

His apology for the holiday’s destination, and its timing, was ‘sorry, not sorry’ style, similar in tone to how a famous sportsperson might apologise: ‘if anyone was offended, I apologise, but it is really not much to be offended by, etcetera’. Most people see through such an apology. Clearly he was advised by a PR person, with no help from his empathy adviser.

He later likened himself to a plumber, torn between a commitment to his business, and his promises to his family, or as he stresses, “his kids”. Except that he went on holiday, overseas, while his home town (Sydney) was potentially burning, and definitely choking on toxic smoke. Not really a leaking tap situation.

As I have stated elsewhere we don’t want our leaders as stand-in father figures, we want them to present themselves when necessary, and to share our difficult times, with grace and fortitude, and empathy. If they really care they should hurt along with the rest of us, and we are all able to recognise when someone is sharing our pain.

Morrison continued his rehabilitation efforts steadily. He seemed to jettison his stance that he would give Commonwealth help only when asked, and came up with the offer of $2 billion dollars to help with the recovery, and rebuilding the country. But every time he showed himself, it became a recitation of how generous he was being, and how he was seemingly giving up his dream of a budget surplus, for us.

Did he improve?

He was also at pains to establish in the public mind that the Commonwealth had been assisting in the bushfire crisis from early on in the piece, rather than as a sop to the country when most of the damage had already been done. Too little, too late was the community’s feeling.

His message was further undercut by his insistence that fighting bush-fires is a state responsibility, and the Feds only act when asked, and they hadn’t been asked. Really? That is hard to believe. This was not the first national emergency Australia has faced, and the Army has been used before.

The eventual arrival of the naval ships was very welcome, but, again, every time he appeared on television, or radio he made it all sound as if he was speaking at a political rally. His army, his navy, and he didn’t even bother to warn the firefighters that much-needed help was on the way.

After the deployment his office actually spruiked the use of the Defence Force as an act of grace, provided by the Liberal Party, on Facebook. There was even a “donate” button, until someone, maybe the empathy adviser, had it removed. Even as I read that sentence I am amazed all over again, that we can take Scotty out of Marketing, but we struggle to take the Marketing out of Scotty.

Was Climate Change a factor?

As the country burned, the issue of climate change was the elephant in the room. Morrison appeared, momentarily, to budge on it, acknowledging the science, and promising that the Government was “evolving” its position. This proved to be a false dawn, however, because he began repeating his deceitful mantra that we would “meet and beat our Paris targets at a canter.” A deliberate nonsense, of course, achieved by using a dodgy accounting trick. His ability to repeat these claims without batting an eyelid is testament to his ‘superb indifference’ to the community.

Look over there, a unicorn!

At least he had moved on from saying that during the fires was not the right time to discuss the likely causes, but he did introduce a couple of diversions, picked up directly from the Murdoch press. These were that arsonists were the major cause, or that the lack of fuel reduction burning was to blame. Obviously they were factors, but grossly overstated, and in the case of arsonism, he or his minions deliberately used misleading Police statistics.

This muddied the waters, and was an attempt to move attention away from the obvious effects of the hottest year on record in Australia, and a near record dry spell. The predictions that climate change would increase the number of extremely hot days, and even the likelihood of prolonged low humidity were proved right. Helpfully, Craig Kelly continued his ridiculous tilting at climate change windmills (?), until Morrison had to gag him.

While this effort at re-branding the Prime Minister was proceeding, Morrison was busy backgrounding journalists by denigrating the NSW Premier and her efforts during the darkest days, including stating that she had refused an offer of assistance from the Commonwealth. She vehemently denied the fact, so not much consideration for Liberal Party solidarity. When times are tough, every man for himself!

Recently he has been pushing the adaptation and resilience theme, which is very sensible, but another diversion away from the main game – the climate is getting hotter, and the bush-fire season is only going to get longer, year on year if we do nothing about the climate. Let us not forget that the season for bushfires has considerable time to run.

So, any change in our Prime Minister?

The latest controversy, over using public funds to shore up his electoral chances, was dealt with at the National Press Club, where he baldly stated that if people were disappointed at missing out on the Pork Barrel Express, he would look at re-opening the scheme, so that even more money from our hard earned taxes could be directed to sports clubs. When asked whether it was proper for the Minister (Bridget McKenzie) to over-ride the relevant NGO and its experts in apportioning grants, he stated that Ministers knew more than the career public servants tasked with the job anyway, so no problem there.

In breaking news he has attempted to excuse the inexcusable, by accepting McKenzie’s resignation for breaching ministerial standards, over a petty $36,000; whatever happened to the $100,000,000? Oh I am sorry, he has offered to open the wallet for ALL the disappointed clubs which missed out. Wow, our money, and he is prepared to be so generous with it! He really does not get it. We are not all stupid, and incumbency is not a licence to steal.

This is staggeringly inept from a politician. Even he knows how lowly we rate politicians, in all fields, but especially when it comes to using taxpayers’ money for personal political gain. This man continues to be the arrogant wowser we all thought he was, without a shred of self-awareness.

So in answer to my question, no. He has very definitely not had an epiphany on this road to Damascus.