Federal

Feb 13, 2018

‘Not his partner’: the single phrase that sums up this wretched government

Deciding that Barnaby Joyce's girlfriend wasn't his partner, so that Malcolm Turnbull could avoid being dragged into the Joyce affair, was the worst idea anyone's had in this incompetent government.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

barnaby joyce interview

There were times in 2012 and 2013 -- when Kevin Rudd and his followers regularly lobbed bombs at Julia Gillard -- that you could only watch events unfold with a sense of wonderment; that never before had we seen such chaos, and we never would again. One of the promises Tony Abbott made before the 2013 election, the one that even his devoted enemies thought he would keep, was to restore a sense of calm and order to government, of adults being in charge. After all, Abbott was extraordinarily disciplined, he led a united party and he and his ministers had substantial experience in government.

Boy did that turn out to be wrong. The incompetence and sheer brazen stupidity of the Abbott years (all two of them) made the Gillard years look relatively ordered. Gillard could at least blame Rudd and his malignant egotism. Abbott had no one to blame but himself. Malcolm Turnbull, we knew, would have Abbott destabilising and white-anting him, but surely would prove as skilful at being prime minister as he was at most everything else he had turned his hand to in his life.

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