Feb 12, 2018

Joyce has always been a dud and should never have been Deputy PM

Barnaby Joyce has been dubbed a political genius but the truth is he has always lacked judgment and any interest in the detail or consequences of his actions.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

It was Tony Abbott who bestowed the appellation "best retail politician in the country" on Barnaby Joyce. Even now, some continue to preface their comments about him by claiming he is possessed of some form of political genius. It is true that Joyce has been successful at the time-honoured Nationals tactic of demanding handouts for farmers despite a complete lack of policy rationale (beyond Joyce's personal and, given recent events, now ironic vision of Australian agriculture as a rural idyll of white heterosexual families). Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on irrigation infrastructure and concessional loans to farmers at Joyce's behest. But a quick check of Joyce's other career highlights suggests he has serially been a problem for his own side of politics. 

There was his painfully short, but for his colleagues far too long, stint as Coalition finance spokesman, when he claimed Australia was about to default. Abbott had to kick the "best retail politician in the country" out of that portfolio. There's his embarrassing railing against foreign investment in agribusiness. There's his inability to properly manage his close friendship with Gina Rinehart. There was his long-running feud with Liberal senator Bill Heffernan, who knows more about rural water issues than Joyce ever could and who was prepared to call out Joyce on his advocacy for his irrigator mates. There was Joyce breaching Cabinet solidarity to bag his own government's decision and another minister over the Shenhua mine. And there are his repeated, cack-handed contributions on foreign policy, usually at odds with the government's actual policy, forcing Julie Bishop (who under any sensible arrangement would be Deputy Prime Minister, not him) to clean up his mess.

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63 thoughts on “Joyce has always been a dud and should never have been Deputy PM

  1. The Curmudgeon

    Don’t forget the hundred dollars a kilo legs of lamb.

  2. david murrell

    Great article Bernard! If Barnaby’s role as the Coalitions’s senior boofhead is up for grabs, then Jim Molan seems well-placed to fill it.

    1. Decorum

      Hang on, David! Barnaby’s been grooming his own successor, thanks very much, and if there’s a senior boofhead’s role available it’ll go to Matt “The Enabler” Canavan. Take a number, Molan.

      1. Marcus Hicks

        Canavan could be in deep doo doo as well.

        1. Peter Wileman

          Certainly hope so! There’s questions to be asked of this jerk.

      2. david murrell

        Fair point Decorum, I was getting carried away. Seeing as Jim Molan is a Liberal, then maybe there is a role for two senior boofheads, once from each of the coalition parties. But then, I would think there’s a bit of a queue on the Liberal’s side as well. And if Canavan get’s thrown under a road train there’s always Christensen…

    2. ajf

      Stupid and evil aren’t perfect substitutes.

  3. klewso

    An over-developed sense of entitlement (to the the public purse for him and those he prioritised) wasn’t give-away enough for the Gnats.

  4. archibald

    I think we can expect Johnny Depp to get the last word.

  5. ralph

    Is Vikki Campion the Junie Morosi of the Turnbull government?

  6. klewso

    Our “popular” media – where entertainment and opinion trump news – has a lot to answer for, giving a free-ride and indulging him, “because he’s different and a breath of fresh-air” (like the pig farmer’s boots : to another pig farmer?) – refusing to look closely and draw our attention to what he did, in contrast to what he said : in contrast to what they expected of others, especially Labor and the Greens
    No doubt because he got up Labor and progressive noses.

  7. klewso

    Meanwhile this government crows about clawing back $1.4billion from what they deem “inappropriate/fraudulent welfare recipients” – while they were featherbedding Campion to the “6(?) figure” tune they look to have?

    1. bushby jane

      Agreed, this is the standard we expect of this govt.
      I have to question the comment re ‘massive jobs growth’, accepting of the govt’s spin on this as is everyone else in the media. It seems to me that apart from the fact that most new jobs are NDIS related, not mentioned by the govt as it is a bad creation of Labor’s, that the number of new jobs must run side by side to the increase of our population. As the jobless rate has actually risen, there must be more jobs lost than gained in fact.

  8. JMNO

    It is a vexed issue, staffer-politician relationships and they will keep happening. I have not time for Barnaby Joyce. He is a buffoon in policy terms and also a hypocrite on relationships. However it is usually the woman that suffers in these situations. BJ wasn’t going to give up his job. She had to move, and did (unlike June Morosi) but should her career suffer more than his, if she is a competent operator?

    1. MJM

      Whether or not she is competent operator is not relevant. He is a minister of the crown and his performance is a long series of inept examples that render, or should do, him unfit for purpose. If he were a toaster or a can of beetroot I’d be taking him back – and asking for a full refund.

      1. JMNO

        Agree entirely about BJ. It is just people are gunning for the media advisor rather than him.

        Didn’t he also write off an expensive government vehicle driving through floodwaters when the loud-and-clear message is that you should never do this.

      2. 124C4U

        If she is a “competent operator ” how come she allowed herself to become impregnated? Competent operators take precautions or insist their partners do.
        If a competent operator was laying a trap surely they wouldn’t trap , a person who they could assume would loose a very large sum of money in a divorce settlement. Also would realise that the target would probably loose his cushy job when the affair was found out. A competent operator would know that a lavish lifestyle could not be maintained on a mere 190K per year.
        It does not compute.

        1. zut alors

          I commented on a previous thread that this has been a PR disaster, handled clumsily. If Campion is allegedly competent (& worth $190K annually) there is no evidence here of the required skills to media manage Cousin Jethro’s potential career-crash defection from his family.

        2. 124C4U

          Mind you I did forget the usual sinecures that ex Pollies get when they leave office.
          Can ex wives claim a share of that under Australian Family Law? Most of it/them would have been “earned” while they were still married.

  9. zut alors

    ‘…he is possessed of some form of political genius.’

    Absolutely, no doubt about it. How this gibbering hayseed attained the position of deputy PM is inexplicable, who would’ve predicted it? When he was made Finance Minister the nation howled with laughter but little did we suspect a higher mantle would follow. As my dear old gran used to say: once is funny, twice is silly.

    ‘political genius’ is correct.

    1. The hood

      Zut, genius for sure, how else to explain his popularity in the bush when as Water Minister he is happy to see water theft on a grand scale in the Murray Darling Basin boasting he was ensuring water for farmers not greenies and the Four Corners expose was bull Shyte! The alledged water theft was by large scale cotton farming companies, some foreign owned at the expense of farmers and rural townships downstream. Broken Hill nearly ran out of water while cotton farmers were running their pumps whenever they needed to top up their reservoirs. The National Party leader sacrificing the livelihood of his rural constituents in the interests of big business, boasting about it in a local pub and Yet they vote him back in with an increased majority in the recent New England by election. I have never been able to work out rural voters, I would be ashamed to admit I voted for this peanut!

    2. Robert Garnett

      “It’s the media stupid”

      Sorry Zut I’m being factitious not rude. I certainly don’t think you are stupid. I love your contributions.

  10. MJM

    Agree with every point Bernard. He is utterly inept.

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