Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons.

#BarnabyGate has exposed the reality of the ineptitude of the Turnbull Government and the end is near, writes John Passant.

WOULD YOU LET Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull organise a piss up in a brewery? He is, to quote his Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, inept.

Would you let Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce organise one? Well, while I am sure he can participate wholeheartedly in a boozy night at the local, I agree with the Prime Minister that Barnaby is prone to making (more than one) shocking error of judgement. Turnbull also said Joyce should consider his position. That seems a pretty clear call for his Deputy to resign.

Inept and error-prone are but two apt descriptions of the Turnbull Government. Nasty pieces of work is another description that comes to mind as they attack workers, unions, the unemployed, pensioners, the poor, the disabled, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

At the same time, the Government is proposing $65 billion in unnecessary tax cuts for business. It has also announced it will give $3.8 billion to potential Australian arms manufacturers to encourage our very own killing factories. Compare that to the $2.2 billion it is cutting from university funding, or the ongoing attacks on unions to prevent a fight for better wages, or growing inequality, where the top one per cent own more than the bottom 70 per cent.

Now, a best-case electoral scenario from "BarnabyGate" would be a return to the polls to sweep this rotten Government from power. As I have argued before, logically, either Joyce or Turnbull, or both, should resign for failing to call an independent investigation into the potential corruption at the heart of this.

Instead, the two most powerful political figures in Australia (at the moment, anyway) traded insults with each other while the Prime Minister banned sex between consenting Ministers and their staff. This was his attempt to appear tough and decisive. So, too, was his warning to Joyce that he should "consider his future".

The one week’s leave the Deputy PM is taking this week means Joyce will not be acting Prime Minister while Turnbull is in Washington prostrating himself before Trump. Clearly, the Prime Minister does not have any confidence in his Deputy.  

Think about that. In the eyes of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister is unfit to be acting Prime Minister. So be decisive, Prime Minister, and sack him.

These attempts to look tough and decisive have backfired. Joyce has effectively told the Prime Minister to get stuffed. Turnbull has been "Joyced" with his own petard. As a consequence of Turnbull’s intervention, the Nationals are united behind their dear leader, according to Deputy Leader of the Nationals Bridget McKenzie.

Or perhaps not. Reports over the weekend suggest the Nationals’ band of thieves might be falling out, with some positioning themselves to take over from Joyce if the opportunity presents itself.

On top of all this, it is not clear if Queensland LNP member George Christensen, who sits in the National Party room, will be able to vote in any leadership contest. A photo he posted of himself with a pistol in shooting stance with the caption, ‘You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks’, has been referred to police.

Even if he can vote, who would want such a tainted vote? The fact that the answer to that question is any contestant for Nationals’ leadership would want his vote shows the bankruptcy of the conservative party. If Joyce had any guts he’d sack Christensen from the party room.

The result at the moment is a stalemate between Turnbull and Joyce. Two incompetent, nasty pieces of work are running the country and screwing us all. This explains the kiss-and-make-up pretence on Saturday. Both Turnbull and Joyce know that in the interests of their ruling class parties they have to work together. However, the fact that neither has spoken in any detail about the "reconciliation" indicates it may not have gone smoothly.

The war of attrition will continue despite the pretence of marital accord on Saturday. Liberal backbencher Senator Ian Macdonald has called for Joyce to resign. Much of the Murdoch press has joined the Liberals in demanding his resignation. Now we have former Liberal leader John Hewson doing the public undermining of Joyce for Turnbull.

The two parties represent different but to some extent overlapping interests. The Nationals are the party of large and small farmers, regional business and the big miners. The Liberals are the party of the urban wealthy (finance, manufacturing, services, retail, construction and so on). They are very unhappy with this bumbling fool of a Deputy.

The latest Newspoll – the 27th consecutive failure for the Turnbull Government – has shown 65% of voters want Barnaby to resign and the Coalition trail Labor 47 to 53% two party preferred. The next Newspoll will likely also be a shocker for the Government. Who could support a government incapable of governing itself? If Barnaby and Malcolm continue their broken marriage for the sake of appearances, the expected electoral defeat will likely become a rout.

Turnbull could sack Joyce from the Ministry but that could well destroy the Government. Turnbull also doesn’t have the guts to do it.

So, the Government will limp along with the duelling duo taking pot-shots at each other and their parties joining in behind them.  My guess is that the next stage in the battle will be the Liberals leaking more damaging dirt on Joyce to the media before the Nationals’ Party room meeting on Monday next week. Their co-conspirators, the Newscorpse crowd, will publish it gleefully. 

Is there more dirt on Joyce? Joyce's former political opponent Tony Windsor certainly thinks there is. When those so far repressed details spread to the front pages of The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun – news followers, not leaders – you will know that the time for Joyce to go is now.  

Some on the left have argued that this is all just a return to 1950s "wowserism". They miss the point that this is about accountability, possible corruption and coverups rather than sex. There is also the issue of the power imbalances between employers and employees which always colours the question of consent. These leftists also seem to be missing the point that the Government could soon fall as a result of the irreconcilable differences between the two partners.

Transparency in government requires that the electorate have enough information on our representatives and potential representatives to make informed choices about who they vote for — before elections and by-elections, not after them. Otherwise, the born to rule will continue to hide their possible corruption, ineptitude and hypocrisy.

That "hide everything" agenda is also why many in the Government oppose a Commonwealth equivalent of the various state independent commissions against corruption. The less we know about our politicians the better, or so the conservatives think.

Meanwhile. it looks as if global warming will accelerate and become not just unmanageable but life-threatening in the shortening longer term. Sydney and Melbourne, for example, should be preparing for 50 degree Celsius days.

The closing the gap progress report shows little advancement for Indigenous Australians. Real wages continue to fall, with the RBA identifying union led enterprise agreements a major contributor to that. The Murray Darling disaster continues unabated, with Barnaby Joyce at its core. Government censorship, this time of the ABC, is intensifying. The Government continues to attack workers and the poor for their rich mates.

BarnabyGate has exposed the reality of this inept, error-ridden born to rule Turnbull regime. The fools are in charge. BarnabyGate has made their position as a government untenable. It’s time to sweep this rabble from power. 

One push from us as workers and protesters, united against incompetence and corruption, and a government ruling for the rich could do it. It’s time.

Read more by John Passant on his website En Passant or follow him on Twitter @JohnPassantSigned copies of John's first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed (Ginninderra Press 2016), are available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

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