The skeletons in Barnaby's closet

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Despite having a closet full of skeletons, Barnaby just keeps coming back (Image edited by Dan Jensen)

Despite the media working to discredit Barnaby Joyce, the man seems indestructible and likely to win back leadership of the Nationals, writes Ross Jones.

ON 7 NOVEMBER, Sky News claimed:

The Nationals are once again racked with internal division over the political future of Barnaby Joyce ...the eight-member electorate selection committee tasked with re-endorsing the preselection of Mr Joyce has reached a deadlock, unable to unanimously support his candidacy.

Sky reckons a couple of members of the selection committee are worried Joyce has a few little secrets yet to be revealed, “skeletons” as they politely put it.

‘Sources have told Sky News at least two members of the selection committee will not endorse the Member for New England because they can’t be sure his paperwork is correct and they believe he has “more skeletons in the closet”.’

You would think the committee could be sure Barnaby’s paperwork was correct because he just came through a by-election where every bit of his paperwork was scrutinised. So that can’t be right.

As the Nationals New England electorate chair, Russell Webb, beautifully put it:

“He’s been looked into up and down hill for the last 12 months.”

Skeletons are another matter.

From Gwabegar to gas, from inland rail to the Pilliga, Barnaby has more skeletons than a ghost train, but so far he has had the Teflon fairy firmly onside and nothing has stuck.

So skeletons can’t be right either.

That leaves power play.

Mr Joyce said:

“If someone in Sydney has got a problem with me, that's a problem for them, not a problem for me.”

As things stand, Barnaby is the only candidate for New England Nationals pre-selection for the next election.

Unless the Teflon fairy trips up, sometime before next May Barnaby will win the seat of New England.

He will probably do so with a 2pp vote of over 65%. That will put him in a very strong position to wrest the leadership back from that non-entity Michael whatever.

Consider the likely scenario — the Coalition get wiped out at the next election. Seat losses everywhere, the Liberal party a smoking ruin. Two Nationals stand tall.

Barnaby holds New England with 65% 2pp and Michael What's-his-name holds Riverina with 60% 2pp.

It’s on.

It will be no contest.

The inept attempt to put a stick in the spokes of Joyce’s pre-selection wheel by simply hinting at some dark truth shows the amateur capability of Joyce’s opponents.

There have been several occasions over the past two years when any self-respecting, ambitious Nationals politician who wanted the leadership would have put the boot into Joyce, but there is not one.

Certainly not Michael whatever.

Joyce will certainly roll Nobody after the next election and regain leadership of the Nationals.

His problem then is going to be operating in an environment where Labor holds the Reps and all kinds of enquiries can be launched and rabbit holes gone down.

Then we might see some skeletons rattle.

Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones is a licensed private enquiry agent the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow Ross on Twitter @RPZJones.

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