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

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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69 thoughts on “‘Not his partner’: the single phrase that sums up this wretched government

  1. Betty

    Would this slippery definition pass the Centrelink test let alone the pub test?

    1. gjb

      No it wouldn’t …. perhaps politicians should sign a document confirming their relationship status before the next opposition and gov are sworn in. Similar to new requirements of centrelink beneficiaries.
      Better check where their citizens as well.

    2. [email protected]

      Well put Betty. Try this bullshit on at Centrelink and you would be toast.

  2. Persistently Baffled

    One of the Deputy Prime Minister’s greatest sins (some, unkindly, would say strengths) is getting caught. I’d lay good money that Barnaby’s romp in another paddock is not the only instance. How many gravid or merely fetching young folks have turned up in Ministerial offices via some sort of Canberra Casting Couch, accompanied by a nod and a wink? This is worse than nepotic – it’s sexually transmitted employment in some of the more powerful and influential posts in the country. The foul, maggoty stench of corruption hangs over the entire Parliament on this.

  3. AR

    The continuing bromance of BK for Turdball is fascinating, not unlike a battered spouse certain that their abuser will change.
    The similarities – denying the past & current behaviour, making excuses about it always being the fault of someone else shellacking the sheer beneficence of – abound but when it comes to complete porking …err, sorry, porkies it is hard to ignore “as skilful at being prime minister as he was at most everything else he had turned his hand to in his life“.
    This is accurate but not in the way intended – Turncoat has made a career out of screwing up whatever he touched then getting out just in time before the faecal matter interfaced with the air movement device.
    Others get splattered, sent to chokey or bankrupted but Talcum slithers ever onwards to the next new opportunity to prove his true worth.
    Enough! We know his value, ability, commitment, integrity and moral values.
    Where is a Cromwell when needed, “‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!

    1. Robert Garnett

      I’m a bit perplexed. Why is this Barnaby Thing Furball’s fault? I know Furball’s trying to deflect responsibility, I think he has a point. Lets keep our eye on the ball here. We are talking about a particularly egregious populist, incompetent politician who gives accountants a bad name. His idea of success is getting into parliament, making outrageous, inappropriate statements and staying there. Furball is stuck with him because the country party he leads has misled country people for the past century or so that they are somehow special and that they need a special party for them and that the Country Party is the one. It’s the Country Party who need to fix the problem, not Furball.

      In fact I’m a country person and I think country people need special representation; being a minority of only 22% or so of the population, with special problems caused by remoteness and other ills. The problem is the Country Party doesn’t do this. It’s all about big Agribusiness and hating unions. People in the regions need a Proper Country Party, the (PCP), because if they leave it to the Labour and Liberals they will continue to be dudded as these parties cannot see anything that isn’t centered in the Capital cities and Ballarat. If the country party actually represented ALL country people and exposed the inequalities that abound from the most urban centered country in the world, then I would vote for them. But they don’t. They are too interested in cabinet positions, brown nosing the Farmer’s Federation and sucking up to the yanks with their investor rights agreements. (TPP)

      I hate Furballs corporate tax policy, it’s stupid, it won’t do what he says it will and it will simply create another bubble in the stock market, but he DID fix the LGBT problem in spite of the mad monk and his CAMP? followers.

      Give himSOME credit.

      And turn the spotlight on the real culprits, The Australian National Party.

      1. AR

        I know this is still too far Beyond the Fridge but the true home of country people would be a Green party.
        Most definitely NOT the current one but the Black W(r)iggler will soon be gone and, sooner or later, there will be a realisation beyond the Sandstone Curtain that their aims & concerns are far more aligned than T1 & T2.

      2. 124C4U

        I prefered the old name for the Nats – Country Party. Especially the abbreviation.

    2. Robert Garnett


      We have the media to thank for Barnaby.

      They loved him. He made great headlines.

      He was policy free.

      He didn’t “rat” on the elites who own and run Australia.

      He was a great diversion.

      He’s still feeding the media, but not on his terms.

      The media will now provide him with an exit strategy not to his liking, but one which will divert people from looking at the real policies of the elites.

      When he’s gone, the media will continue to concentrate on the PROCESS of politics in his replacement rather than the content and we will go through the next futile saga until the next election.

      And so the World turns.

  4. Robert Garnett

    Remember Jim Cairns and Juni Morosi. The Tories hounded Cairns until he resigned. They didn’t have any evidence of a sexual relationship and Jim never admitted to one until much later.

    At least two investigations were made into Cairns and Morosi’s political relationship with neither finding any evidence of illegality or impropriety, yet Cairns still lost his job.

    Joyce has a higher position than Cairns had as deputy prime minister and his hubris and hypocrisy as they relate to the family values of others is breathtaking.

    He should be sacked.

    There are a number of good men in the National Party who would buy and sell him on policy issues and leadership, one of whom he recently removed as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. It’s not like others in the National Party aren’t as smart as him, I’d say it’s rather the reverse.

    I wondered why he looked like a frightened rabbit in the high beams of the High court; he was terrified that the whistle would be blown before he got back in on the sympathy vote. There wouldn’t have been much sympathy if the New England voters had been more up-to-date on his domestic arrangements.

  5. Bob Weis

    Good piece until the last paragraph.
    While Howard and Costello took credit for being good economic managers what they actually did was create the structural deficit that we still have today. They had rivers of gold from the mining boom and anybody can or should see that the end of the sentence is bust. They bought votes and reduced income tax so that future governments would be strapped for cash.
    I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about Howard as if he isn’t and wasn’t a grubby, racist liar (Tampa, children overboard and ….O). The locking up of genuine refugees and the future uninformed discussions about immigration policy are all his children. So please, don’t add to his mythical status. Let’s have a proper assessment of the little turd.

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    I won’t pile on any further, everyone here has done a splendid job.
    The ‘other’ real story is just how these ministerial appointments are made. It’s a fee for all, nepotism, favours, liberal national and labor junior dickwads society apprentices rolled out like a sausage machine. Occasionally merit will accidentally find its way through, but don’t think it’s a product of the process.

    While the public sector has to jump through series of ever-smaller hoops and make a genuine attempt at merit appointments, this is generally not required.

    Consequently, ministerial offices may or may not be full of the undeserving, and we would know no better.

  7. Bert Morris

    Well said Bernard. This must be the ultimate “smoking pen” piece. Thank you for the words you have used to express my feelings.

  8. Peter Wileman

    Terrific article.
    Now that they are all back in Canberra, the crap will continue. This has been one continuing story of disaster after disaster. We know that Bronwyn is now enjoying her $700 a day pension as punishment for her transgressions, Tony is not yet where he should be (out on his arse) enjoying his huge pension. Susan Ley got caught and was actually pushed aside. The debacle of the SSM which Malcolm took full credit for. The citizenship circus is still going on. The recent ‘Cabinet Papers’. nonsense. The continuing rise of the fascist Dutton. Now Barnaby. (With the collusion of Canavan)
    But what of Cash and Morrison? There is a danger that as these disasters roll on, Cash and Morrison will not be facing the spotlight as the next disaster rolls into sight.

    When do these clowns have time to do any actual work? Perhaps should we be satisfied that they are not doing their jobs because it’s less destructive to the community by having them running around protecting their arses’ from the next crisis.
    Malcolm truly is a circus ringmaster.
    What will be the next controversy? Abetz and Andrews setting up home together (Not as partners of course.)

  9. johnnhogan

    Well said Bernard.
    This is now excruciating. And the partner thing neatly summed up how shit house it is. I had a moment of piercing understanding when I heard it.
    What would the election outcome have been if everyone knew what he’d done? Hmmm.
    And then there is the underlying truth that everyone is affected by but have been saying how much it’s a personal matter. Yeah, no. None of us are perfect and few of us blameless. Yet Joyce’s personal matter goes directly to his ability to lead and make decisions on behalf of us all. It’s just like a heroin addiction I realised. Both are based on the pursuit of a good thing – love, pleasure etc. But both cause radical distortions in priorities, thinking and behaviour that are disrespectful and destructive to all concerned. Many relationships won’t make it, but competent adults get through a dissolution without entering into lying and deceitful lifestyles. Joyce didn’t and like a junkie, he’s left a trail of destruction. So much harm. So much damage. And people seriously think this is private and doesn’t have anything to do with his job? He has done this to the most important people in his life. For a long time it seems. How can that not create serious concerns about his judgement? No reasonable person does that. And was he over his relationship? Or was he so personally downtrodden that the attention of a younger woman caused his to abandon his principles and life so easily? Geez. Weak. Just weak. A private matter? Yeah, say that but watch it affect a lot of things from now on.
    This should actually be it for the government. If Turnbull is a democrat who respects the principles of our constitution, he’ll have to act. We’ve been in a period of constant PTSD for so long now that it lessens the perspective of how bad this is. In truth though, this is it. Maybe it will take a few more days for it to sink in. Around the country, in Canberra. This is shockingly bad. I can feel it in my gut.

    1. AR

      John – that was a very fair and forensic narrative, unemotional & to the point.
      Thank you.

      1. johnnhogan

        Cheers. It’s sad. I remember Barnaby standing up to everyone on his side in the dying days of Howard. I respected that.

        1. AR

          Yeah, he did have his moments.
          Pity the akshal hours & days were so crap.

          1. johnnhogan


    2. Betty

      Thanks Johnnhogan.
      The heroin addiction analogy is apt.
      Joyce is like all infantile, bullying fantasists, unable to own his shit much less care about the consequences until his nose has been rubbed in it and even then not truly appreciate how utterly badly behaved he’s been.

      1. johnnhogan

        Cheers Betty. It’s going to be a very tough time for him when the spotlight is gone and he has to deal with all of that.

  10. Glenn Turton

    I disagree that Joyce is the nadir despite this being disappointing and him being useless and a user in any position he has served.
    Lower points remain treatment of refugees (particularly in our concentration camps), aboriginal treatment, sell off of assets and promotion of the money lending schemes like Adani.
    While I feel sorry for Joyce’s family this is just the tip of the iceberg for the self indulgence and selfishness of the LNP.
    Let’s hope they are voted out for decades to come.

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