Labor leader Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

The return of Barnaby Joyce to the front line is a measure of the distinctiveness of Australian politics. Not in his ability to come back from scandal. Boris Johnston and Donald Trump are proof you can get away with anything and prosper.

No, it's in the nickname. Whatever their excesses I can't see the British or American polities calmly accepting the return of a man known as "the Beetrooter" — or given Joyce's run-in with the COVID cops, the "unmasked Beetrooter".

It's another example of the paradox of Australian iconoclasm. Oh, look at us, we go, no hoity-toity airs and graces we. No, we'll call 'em how they are... as we re-elect them time after time. What does it mean when a root vegetable rises again? That's kinda what they're meant to do, right? I see in my mind's eye a whole tableau of the rolling away of the rock, done with primary produce, the Beetrooter risen again, Mary and co. as zucchini, Pilate as a prize-winning pumpkin etc, etc.