Barnaby Joyce Nationals Michael McCormack
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

We don't know how close former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce came to seizing the deputy prime ministership this morning. The Nationals won't reveal the numbers. But the fact that he was a serious contender in any way reveals how farcical the government is becoming.

Scott Morrison has endured a nightmare start to the year, all of it of his own creation. There's his climate denialism, and that of his party. There's his loss of political judgment in relation to the bushfire catastrophe. And there's the extraordinary and blatant rorting of taxpayer money that went on in the community sports infrastructure program, with the connivance of his own office.

But Joyce's attempt to recover the position that he was forced to resign two years ago can only have left Liberals agog at the self-indulgence of sections of the Nationals Party.