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Politics Editorial

Barnaby Joyce's 14 greatest achievements

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Barnaby’s back! To those of us who have witnessed leaders' heads roll within the Coalition faster than their accusing fingers can point to “Labor, Labor Labor!”, it seems beyond farcical.

In some ways, the return of the disgraced former leader of the Nationals replacing the one whose name still escapes most of us may be seen as a positive for the Opposition parties. Not because of Barnaby's policies, certainly. Not because of the stench of corruption that seems to waft behind him like the decomposed fish in the dried-up riverbed remains of his water rights management. Nor can his international reputation sink much lower, surely.

No, the reason the Opposition parties and progressives, in general, may find this latest development helpful is that Barnaby Joyce’s resurrection as our Deputy PM can only further entrench this Coalition Government as a climate change denying, misogynistic group of dinosaurs in the minds of voters.

But Barnaby did sound almost remorseful when he said this:

“Well, I acknowledge my faults. And I resigned as I should and I did.

I’ve spent three years on the backbench and you know, I hope I come back a better person. I don’t walk away from the fact that you have to have time to consider, not only the effect on yourself, but more importantly, the effect on others. I’ve done that.

I don’t want to dwell on the personal, except to say — hopefully one learns from their mistakes and makes a better person of themselves.”

Of course, as we all know, the talent of saying stuff and sounding genuine courses through the veins of many a politician. With this in mind, we have prepared a handy dossier of some of the monumental stuff-ups and chief downright dodgy stuff from which we hope he has considered “the effect on others” — to help you judge whether this is the case over the coming months.

Here is our (by no means conclusive) list of Barnaby Joyce’s choice behaviour, from which most politicians (certainly Labor Party ones) would never have emerged, let alone risen from the depths of the backbench to be Deputy PM once more. 

1. Bankrolled by Gina Rinehart? 

Back in 2013, IA reported on a claim made in Parliament by then Independent MP Tony Windsor about a donation of 'perhaps $700,000' to Barnaby's election campaign from mining magnate Gina Rinehart:

'In the seat of New England, there are significant rumours that the National Party candidate for New England, who is currently a senator in Queensland, is to receive a quite substantial donation ‒ some hundreds, perhaps even $700,000 ‒ from mining magnate Gina Rinehart. That is an easy statement to make, but I would like Ms Rinehart to clarify her position on how many hundreds of thousands she is giving to a candidate in New England. She does not reside in New England and I do not think she has any interest in New England. One has to ask why she is providing that sort of funding to a candidate in New England.'

Mr Windsor also suggested at the time that the money was extended on the understanding that Barnaby would support coal-seam gas — a commitment which he has dutifully upheld:

2. Getting in drunken brawls 

3. Same-sex marriage "threat" to marriage sanctity

Not only was Barnaby opposed to same-sex marriage, he also seemed to think that people choosing to marry within their own sex would somehow deny the right of heterosexual marriage for his four daughters:

"We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband, and I want that to happen for them.

I don't want any legislator to take that right away from me."

4. The citizenship debacle 

Sure, Joyce may have forgotten he was also a New Zealand citizen at the height of the Section 44 controversy, and sure, he had to step down pending a court case but, well, who hasn’t?!

5. Adultery "no threat" to marriage sanctity 

It was IA that first investigated rumours about Barnaby’s extra-marital relationship and revealed that his then-girlfriend, was in fact pregnant — though we did not reveal Vikki Campion's identity, at the time. 

In Barnaby's world, of course, the magical powers of same-sex marriage may somehow have interfered with the sanctity of marriage and the ability of his four daughters to marry the opposite sex (!) but the reverberations of adultery and having two children out of wedlock? Nah — that’s all fine.

Barnaby even went one step further and peddled the idea that his partner, Campion, the one with whom he had an extra-marital affair, should be allowed to work in his office:

"We should be making the changes to ensure that families stick together as much as possible … It's insane to think that if [Vikki Campion] did want to work for me, she couldn't.”

Presumably, his views on adultery remain unaltered, since Campion and his two children born outside “a secure relationship with a loving husband” were present and accounted for at his swearing-in as Deputy PM on Tuesday. Campion, who is back working for the Daily Telegraph (also known as the Coalition's PR department in some circles) is also now happily participating in Question Time tactics meetings. No conflict of interest there, obviously. 

6. Rorting while bonking 

And Barnaby was talking from experience since his current partner was his staffer when the affair began and was then moved to the offices of other Nats MPs after the affair became public, and, since, it is believed, Joyce claimed expenses – as brilliantly itemised by Belinda Jones in IA – for trysts at which they (ahem) "worked" together. 

7. A bonk ban in his honour 

All this bonking and associated alleged rorting led former PM Malcolm Turnbull to instigate a "bonk ban", in an attempt to stop MPs from having sex with their staffers. As Andrew P Street wrote in IA, this is obviously not a concern of the current PM Scott Morrison. 

8. Accepting $40,000 cheques

Then there’s the time when,

‘...at a glittering Hancock Prospecting-branded dinner hosted by Gina Rinehart … she handed [Joyce] an envelope while awarding him the $40,000 inaugural "Champion of Agriculture" prize.’

Yep, nothing wrong with accepting gifts of large sums of money just for being Agriculture Minister and a mining mogul bestie. 

9. Bum gropes and assorted sexual harassment allegations

And who hasn’t been drunk at a Canberra pub following the Rural Women’s Awards (!) and then when accused of being drunk, reacted by physically accosting random strangers and pinching their bums?

There are also allegations of sexual harassment from businesswoman and 2012 Rural Woman of the Year, Catherine Marriott. And there have been other allegations of Barnaby's sexual impropriety swirling around but obviously, these are not a concern for this Morrison Government, either.

10. Water rights as personal superannuation scheme

During his time as Agriculture Minister, Joyce personally oversaw the mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin, ensuring National Party donors were winners and the waterways, well, the dead fish tell the story there.

11. Adding to super scheme with inland rail 

Back in 2005, Joyce bought two properties in the Pilliga, in the middle of land on which Eastern Star Gas planned to develop 1,100 coal seam gas (CSG) wells, feeding a $150 million pipeline to the Hunter Valley.

He did not declare the landholding when the Coalition passed an inland rail development, which would conveniently travel by his properties. Joyce then (reluctantly) agreed to sell the properties in 2013 but did not do so until 2018, when forced to fund his divorce settlement.

12. What climate change policy?

Interestingly, the reason Barnaby Joyce is back is, ostensibly, because his successor, now predecessor, Michael McCormack, simply did not take the climate denial far enough when he labelled Greens Leader Adam Bandt as "a traitor" and declared:

"Hell will freeze over before I start listening to the Greens on climate change."

Joyce, then, can be counted on to ensure that none of those newfangled renewable energy thingies or emission reduction targets ever get off the ground.

13. Being a drunk

Back in 2018, Barnaby admitted to being a drunk and exercising poor judgement. Of course, this was all in the spirit of selling his book, which can now be found in the clearance bins of most good bookshops.

14. Belief in the role of government

Perhaps the most fitting conclusion to a story about Barnaby Joyce's glittering career and return to the office of Deputy Prime Minister, can be gleaned from his own words:

"I don't want the government any more in my life. I'm sick of the government being in my life."

FFS!

This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. The full versions of these articles are only available to Independent Australia subscribers. They may be read online in the IA members-only area.

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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