barnaby joyce interview

CRITICS LEAP FOR JOYCE

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is facing mounting pressure from Nationals MPs and former leaders to step down over his extramarital affair with, and possible misuse of taxpayer funds in creating jobs for, his former ­staffer and now-pregnant partner Vikki Campion

The Australian ($) reports that Joyce has lost critical party-room support over the issue and that a group of MPs, including ­Andrew Broad, Keith Pitt, Luke Hartsuyker and possible alternative leaders Michael McCormack and Darren Chester, held crisis ­meetings in parliament yesterday. 

The calls come amidst a possible Coalition turf war, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly “frustrated” over having Joyce’s affair derail the government’s agenda, and Joyce’s supporters expressing anger over reports Turnbull, as Liberal leader, had contacted at least one Nationals MP over the matter.

“He should step down for the good of the government, his family and his pregnant partner,” one cabinet minister is reported as saying yesterday. Referencing the prolonged nature of the scandal, which has also included allegations of harassment against Joyce, a Nationals MP said, “I think you can’t continue to die a death of a thousand cuts. No one is bigger than the party and the national interest.”

The Age also reports that former Nationals leaders Mark Vaile and Warren Truss have urged the issue be resolved quickly, following following revelations from the paper that Joyce claimed travel allowance for 50 nights in Canberra while parliament was not sitting in 2017, more than any other cabinet minister. 

OFF BASIN

In one of today’s few non-Joyce-related stories, the New South Wales Coalition and Victorian Labor governments are threatening to pull out of the $13 billion interstate Murray-Darling Basin Plan unless 70 gigalitres of water is made available to irrigators.

The Age reports that the bipartisan ultimatum, announced by state water ministers Niall Blair (NSW) and Lisa Neville (Victoria) yesterday, comes in response to a Greens push to disallow two Coalition government measures to free up more water in the northern basin. Federal Labor had expressed tentative support for one disallowance motion last week, but is now understood to be reconsidering.

“NSW will not stand by and allow our commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be undermined by the politics of South Australia,” Blair said. “[Neville] and I want to make sure that all senators that are going to vote on the disallowance motions understand clearly that this is a pivotal point, and that their actions may result in the ending of the Murray Darling Basin Plan this week.”

The Coalition plan follows a four-year review that recommended slashing, by 70 gigalitres, the amount of water that northern basin communities would be forced to return to the river. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has argued this panders to irrigators over the environment and has urged the disallowance measures.

The Senate will vote today on whether the 70 gigalitres should be recovered or freed up for irrigation.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

“Christians are not into freedom to discriminate, they’re really into freedom to select.”

— Patrick Parkinson, a law professor and board member of think-tank Freedom for Faith, told Philip Ruddock’s religious freedoms review in a submission seeking greater exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. The fact that “discriminate” and “select” can mean the exact same thing, i.e. when firing LGBTIQ employees, has apparently been lost on Parkinson.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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Revealed: how Australian spies filmed Indigenous activists during the cold war

Trump: US expenditures in Middle East have been ‘a mistake’

Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend indicting prime minister for bribery

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Newly elected Liberal Senator and commander of allied forces during the alleged 2014 Fallujah war crimes Jim Molan will make his first parliamentary speech.

Canberra: “Science meets Parliament” event will feature a National Press Club speech from Science & Technology Australia president, Professor Emma Johnston, as well as speeches from Coalition, Labor and Greens science spokespeople.

Melbourne: The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee will hold hearings into 2016/17 financial performance.

Melbourne: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd will mark the 10th anniversary of the Australian parliament’s apology for the Stolen Generations and other Indigenous people.

Perth: The first of two public hearings in a joint counter-terrorism inquiry into the protection of crowded places.

THE COMMENTARIAT

It’s in our hands how the flawed religious freedom inquiry will play out — Rodney Croome (The Guardian): “This is how it could go: Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom inquiry recommends a law to allow discrimination in the name of religious conscience; to fight off new rightwing parties and wedge Labor; the Turnbull government introduces a religious freedom bill; to smooth over divisions in its own ranks Labor waves the bill through.”

Rita Panahi: No cheers for evil North KoreaRita Panahi (Herald Sun $): “A 2014 report by the United Nations Human Rights Commission ran to 400 pages detailing stomach-turning depravity including the murder of dissenters’ newborn children. Remember that when you see fawning coverage of North Korea’s all-female cheer squad who chant at the Winter Olympics or the praise some media outlets have heaped on Kim Yo-jong, the Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea — and the sister of despot Kim Jong-un.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

‘Not his partner’: the single phrase that sums up this wretched government — Bernard Keane: “But the Turnbull government is like a combination of the Abbott and Gillard governments: rank incompetence coupled with a vengeful former leader. Twice the chaos. Twice the dysfunction. Twice the fun. And there are days, like yesterday, when you can only marvel at the incompetence of this government, to contemplate, in a kind of aesthetic sense, the giddy beauty achieved by such sublime levels of idiocy.”

‘I still feel the same as I always have’: Indigenous experiences since ‘Sorry’ — Alister McKeich: “Ten years ago today, then-prime minister Kevin Rudd made his most notable address to parliament, saying ‘sorry’ to the Stolen Generations. After more than a decade of John Howard’s stubborn refusal, a national apology from government felt like no small victory. Yet while Kevin Rudd continues to gloat about his finest hour, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may rightly ask, what has changed?”

Razer: Q&A dresses up narcissism and calls it democracy — Helen Razer: “The great fortune of this show is that it has remained on the telly for a decade. Its great crime is one of stupidity, and is obvious to any viewer not persuaded by the idea that ‘democracy’ is simply a case of representation. People believe this, you know. They believe it very earnestly on Q&A. If things look equal in elite places, such as parliament or the ABC on a Monday night, then they are equal.”

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Peter Fray

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