Apr 21, 2017

Nats push the bush while Libs star in Being John Howard

While immigration dominated the agenda this week, the Nationals were walking tall with some economically illiterate policies.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

While the Prime Minister this week was lurching to the right to accommodate populist sentiment on immigration in the electorate and in his own party, the Nationals were similarly dipping into an old playbook to address their political concerns.

Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash have been spruiking decentralisation of public service departments as both a regional growth stimulant and a fix for the housing affordability problems (despite, um, Canberra not actually having a housing affordability problem). Inconveniently, this was also the week that the shameless pork barreling of Joyce's own electorate turned into high farce, with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority revealed to have issued hilarious "talking points" to its staff about the forced relocation to Armidale, followed by chief executive Kareena Arthy warning staff such leaks were "unlawful", followed by Arthy herself bailing out of the agency in order to avoid relocating to one of the few towns in NSW even colder than Canberra.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

20 thoughts on “Nats push the bush while Libs star in Being John Howard

  1. Wayne Robinson

    Well, the national capital was only put in Canberra to avoid an argument between Melbourne and Sydney.

    Moving federal agencies to regional centres is only a ploy to shore up National Party support in their electorates.

    Actually, I’ve just had a thought. Perth currently is suffering economically. Malcolm Turnbull is only PM because the Liberal Party managed to retain the overwhelming majority of seats in the 2016 election. If the results from the 2017 state election carry over to the next federal election, then he’s gone.

    Perhaps Turnbull should shore up the vote in WA Liberal seats by transferring the federal parliament to Perth?

  2. mark hipgrave

    It seems strange that a 34% prepoll vote for Abbott in Warringah, as reported by the ABC ( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/tony-abbott-polling-data-leak-election-warringah/8458024 )can be turned into a 62:38% victory by a bit of robo calling and a letterbox drop. Are the people of the Northern Beaches really that stupid?

    1. bushby jane

      Must be. I have read that he is rarely there, does little work in and for his electorate, but they still vote for him.
      Katherine Murphy had it that nsw Libs were finding a better candidate to preselect and turf him out.

  3. Robert Smith

    Abbott claims to be upset that this polling was leaked, but did he really expect there would be no payback for constantly attacking Turnbull?

  4. Dion Giles

    Does the put-down term “populist” actually have a meaning other than *democratic* and do those using the term seek to put down the Common Herd? Are they merely elitists peeing into the wind?

    1. old greybearded one

      Yes it means things like stirring up racism and pandering to the results. It also means operating to prejudices rather than trying to lead the debate.

  5. Steeleye

    Am I missing something here? When were Joyce and Nash appointed the Minister/Assistant Minister for Relocating Government Departments? These proposals are so obviously corrupt pork barreling of the most egregious kind that you have to wonder why Truffles hasn’t told them to pull their silly heads in and try to do something useful for a change. Is he so shorn of any vestige of authority that he can only sit back and let them say whatever comes into their heads? Bizarre, completely bizarre.

  6. graybul

    Ahh Wayne, knowing you jest, yet; desperation often exposes horrendous choices. Barnaby is truly on a roll filling leadership vacuums left, right and centre. The closer to an election, more extreme the need to shore up ‘futures’.

  7. klewso

    Jethro availing himself of the public purse to advance his own ends.
    Surely he’s pushing this grafting barrow to cover his deceit – to get more relocations – so he’s not the odd one out?
    Form :-
    Writing-off a $90,000 LandCruiser CommCar on private business (while a Qld Senator, visiting his NSW property) – fording a flooded creek.
    Billing us for his out-of-pocket expenses incurred attending weddings, parties anything – by writing it up as “party business”?
    Attending a wedding/contract-signing in India, as a bobble-head politician (along with Bishop and Gambaro), to gild Rinehart’s political cred with her hosts/partners. Then billing us for he and his wife for the flight home – per “meeting foreign officials” in a KL stop-over? Could that have been “customs officers”? (Fifty grand from Gina to spend on his New England re-election campaign.)
    An accountant with no sense of accounting?
    Sure the tax-payer has deep pockets – but which one is he in?

    As for Nash? The Furnival is over?

  8. Pollietragic

    “the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) revealed to have issued hilarious “talking points” to its staff about the forced relocation to Armidale”. The bureaucrats were always in a lather to help Barnaby deliver on his campaign pork barreling. This became a PR disaster when the relocation was stuffed up.

    Some of the dragooned-in-to-relocation staff found on arrival they had no office or desk with communication access. They expressed their annoyance, rather publicly, when they set up their laptops on customer tables at the local hamburger joint, to gain access to WIFI.
    Such wonderful entertainment on ABC Radio hearing Barnaby waffle around this embarrassment.
    Let’s face it,a cost-benefit anlaysis is only for ALP Govt’s to do and be criticised for if it is missing or if the cost dollars can be misrepresented for political gain. Such analysis doesn’t apply to relocating Canberra public servants, which originated from LNP pork barrelling to win votes. Nor should a cost benefit analysis apply to the ludicrous Snowy Mountain Hydro Proposal – win bets by betting on its disappearance, folks. Ah, we are so entertained by this incompetent government. Distraction, what distraction? Oh, there’s another one now. Deficit? What deficit?

  9. Dog's Breakfast

    Why don’t we invent gas powered flying machines and give them away to for everyone so we can live in the bush and commute to SydMelberra? It would be cheaper than building roads everywhere. Oh, that’s right, all our gas is being sold on the world markets and we’ll barely have enough for heating this winter. Plus, when were Australians ever good at inventing new and useful things?

    Or we could allow people to commute less by working from home for those vast swathes of us who do nothing useful (I include myself here) like building things or making things or delivering things. If only we had a functioning system where vast amounts of data could be easily transmitted between people and businesses easily and quickly, all around Australia.

    Or if we …………… oh forget it!

    1. old greybearded one

      We are very good at inventing new and useful things. What we are not good at is making and selling them. The list is long, think WiFi.

  10. old greybearded one

    I live in regional Australia and I watch decentralisation with interest. There are good reasons why research aspects might be done in Armidale there is, or at least was before Barnaby started buggering campuses, an excellent Faculty of Rural Science. But to simply bring bureaucrats is bloody silly. Well thought out, there could be long term gains, but Armidale is a bad place for other reasons. I lived there for 5 very happy years as a young man. I still love the scenery, the food and the town, but it is a mongrel of a place to get to. The roads are not great, the rail service is rubbish and the air services are pretty ordinary although thanks to Tony Windsor, they do have serious NBN. Nothing Barnaby does is ever well thought out alas. The NSW government has gone down this road a few times already. Move the Primary industries or Agriculture departments to Dubbo, or Orange etc. Then it is all pulled down a few years later. If you put significant numbers of people in regional cities you will create another kind of crisis, a transport problem exists everywhere in inland NSW and water supplies are uncertain in all the inland areas except those on the Murray or Murrumbidgee. Some of these are exacerbated by poor water management by the Nats and water theft by Barnaby’s old mates in places like St George. It is hard to see how any nation could deserve this bunch of idiots.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details