Barnaby getting less relevant daily

By March 2, 2017Australian Politics

You know things are getting desperate when Barnaby Joyce resorts to wearing his ‘I’m a rural person’ hat on a cloudy day in Canberra, as a means of demonstrating his bona fides to farmers. Even more desperate is his blatant pork barrelling of his own electorate with the proposed move of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to Armidale.

Joyce has to shore up his declining share of the vote, not only in his own electorate, but the vote of the National Party generally, which is in serious decline around the country. It recently lost the New South Wales state electorate of Orange to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (yes, really!), admittedly by a mere 50 votes. On top of that was the decision by the Liberal Party in Western Australia, under the guidance of an increasing desperate Premier Colin Barnett to preference One Nation ahead of the National Party in some seats in the coming Western Australian election. This is not really surprising given that polls indicate that support for the National Party stands at about 5% while that for One Nation stands at about 13%.

In late 2017 or early 2018, Queensland will face an election and there has been a recent surge in support for One Nation, such that it is now running at about 23% in polling, having taken a few percent off both Labor and the LNP (Liberals and Nationals are a single party in Queensland, with the Nationals being the predominant group prior to the merger in 2008). In fact, several members of the LNP have ‘defected’ to One Nation, and it has been reported that discussions are under way with others, with a view to having them defect as well. The writing must be on the wall for the LNP, if the rats are leaving the ship which they think is not going anywhere but down. One thing you can be sure of and that is, for a politician, self-interest trumps everything else.

But Back to Barnaby Joyce; not only has he pork-barrelled his own electorate with the APVMA, but the move itself will cost well over $25 million, and the cost to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will be over $150 million per annum and the loss of 189 direct jobs and 365 jobs in total. Armidale will benefit, initially with construction of a building to house the organisation, then to the tune of about $110 million a year. This does not take into account the (already) significant loss of staff of the organisation, some of whom have spouses with hard to get professional positions, children in school or university, and own a house. However, being a person from the 1950s, Joyce would probably not understand this. In fact, the management at the APVMA have been trying to bribe staff with pay rises of up to 15% with up to 12 flights a year back to their families if the latter choose not to move. In the last 6 months, 37 staff have left the organisation, including 16 of the regulatory scientists. However, these have been replaced, but it does make you wonder how the experience of the new chums stacks up.

The big drawback the ACT has, is that it does not elect National Party members to the House of Representatives. Nor does it elect Members from the Liberal Party (it used to, when the Liberal party was actually liberal, rather than regressive), and this has made the ACT the whipping boy of the Coalition when in government. It seems to greatly enjoy cutting off people’s careers in their thirties or forties, to somehow cripple the economy and make the ACT look bad economically. However, the ACT just keeps bouncing back, because it has a highly educated populace and it is education that is important in the 21st century. This is something else Barnaby Joyce doesn’t understand.

Now Barnaby Joyce wants country towns to put in their bids to have Canberra Public service departments forcibly relocated. This is the Nationals way of trying to shore up their crumbling fortunes against the tide of the 21st century, and One Nation. You can bet your bottom dollar, that if this happened, these relocations would only be to seats in need of a few large barrels of pork, to make sure they kept their National Party members in incumbency.

If Barnaby Joyce wants to find out why the National Party are rancid these days, he only has to look at his partner in the Coalition. The National Party are ostensibly the farmer’s party, many of whom now realise that climate change is upon them, yet the Liberal Party mostly seem to deny that it is happening (as does Joyce himself). Many farmers are rightly upset about coal leases being granted over their farms or adjoining lands, yet the Liberal Party think this is wonderful. Many farmers are rightly upset that numerous coal-seam gas wells are allowed to be drilled on their land, with a concomitant risk to their water supply, but the Liberals thinks it is just great. Many diary farmers are tired of being screwed by the big processors, but the race to the bottom is just fine as far as the Liberals are concerned.

If Barnaby Joyce wants to be still in the coalition in a couple of years, he needs to stop looking in the mirror at his tomato-coloured head and whispering to himself: “hello, mister deputy prime minister”. If the National Party are to survive beyond the next year or two, they need to start looking after their constituents, not tugging their forelock with a ‘yes sir’ every time the Liberals make a decision for their own constituency. If they don’t, One Nation will.



  • Wendy McLeod says:

    ‘If the National Party are to survive beyond the next year or two, they need to start looking after their constituents, not tugging their forelock with a ‘yes sir’ every time the Liberals make a decision for their own constituency. If they don’t, One Nation will.’
    – and if/when that happens God help us all!

    • admin says:

      I don’t necessarily think that will be a bad thing, in the long run. One Nation are so repugnant that there are many people who look upon them as a joke. If the Liberals had to depend on them in any sort of loose coalition, then the Liberals would also start to stink, and that could lead to the latter fragmenting. Indeed, that sort of fragmentation may be happening already, with Bernardi and Christensen spitting their respective dummies. Christensen is in a difficult position, with polls suggesting he is running neck and neck with One Notion in his Dawson seat. It is a long time until the next election (maybe?), but it still must be making him nervous.

  • Jon says:

    Joyce’s blatant abuse of taxpayer funds is even worse than stated above. According to the head of the APVMA at Senate Estimates 48 staff, including 20 (of 100) of the agency’s regulatory scientists, have already quit leaving large gaps in capability and corporate knowledge. Some of their jobs appear likely to be filled by overseas scientists due to the shortage of local experience/expertise – and likely the dislocation of the job from its logical colleagues. On top of that a new building is required and, quote: “The national pesticides authority boss told a Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday that she and her colleagues were using the restaurant’s free wi-fi to work because they had no base in Armidale”.

    That workers should be required to uproot their families and turn their lives upside down on the whim of an entitled politician is symptomatic of the malaise in our current state of politics generally (leading to the rise of the idiotic One Nation), but more particularly it is a true reflection of the conservatives’ lack of respect for workers and taxpayers funds. Joyce apparently believes he is ENTITLED to throw people’s lives into disarray without warning simply because he has the power and inclination to do so. In the absence of Joyce providing sound argument as to the costs and benefits, or reasons why the AVPMA shouldn’t go to any other regional centre outside his own electorate (why not Wagga Wagga for example?), we are entitled to think this is nothing more than an ignorant and callous case of blatant pork barreling.

    • admin says:

      It is disturbing when, in the interests of brevity, I have to leave out some damning evidence that Joyce is a malevolent, self-serving moron.

  • Jim Jago says:

    While the comments about Barnaby Joyce and the future of the National Party may well be true, I think there is an unintended and unfortunate implication in both the original blog and also in Jon’s comment. It is noted that the APVMA is being moved, against the wishes of most of the staff, from Canberra to Adelaide, with many of the staff resigning. However, there is almost an implication here that people living away from the cities are sort of second class citizens and that the only places worth living are in the major cities. Armidale is a good sized town with excellent educational facilities and would be a very pleasant place to live. It is this sort of attitude that really annoys country people even when it is unintended.

    • admin says:


      That is not intended, but my point was that Joyce is doing this solely for reasons of pork-barrelling. Many of the staff will have spouses in jobs, children at school and in sporting clubs. I have spent some time in Armidale and it is a lovely place, it’s just that it is not where most of my life is.

  • Jon says:

    Jim, not sure how you arrived at that conclusion but let me assure you I implied nothing of the sort. I was raised in a country town and know well the pros and cons. Anyone uprooted like this without a long lead-in and very sound justification has every right to be more than annoyed, as nice as Armidale may be. Daresay APVMA staff would be even more annoyed if they were shunted off to Sydney, so the argument appears to me to be a red herring. The conservatives claim to be all about efficiency and good money management (a furphy, nevertheless it’is one of their regular claims) yet Joyce has not shown any evidence of either applying to his edict here. Yes the move will boost the Armidale economy but first cut analysis suggests that the loss to the ACT economy will be larger than the Armidale gain – even without factoring in Joyce’s largesse with regard to increased pay, free flights back to Canberra, and the inefficiences of being separated from both their clients and from their sources of research co-operation and influence.

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