When Warren Truss was leader of the National Party from 2007 to February 2016, just about no-one in the general public knew who he was. That was one of the reasons why Barnaby Joyce succeeded him.
Now lots of people know a lot about Barnaby for a variety or reasons, and a saw enough of his successor Michael McCormack this week to realise he was simply not up to the job. The numbers that matter are the 21 members of the federal National Party room. More than half prefer Barnaby Joyce, warts and all. So we have Barnaby Joyce victorious in Nationals leadership challenge.
I have to say that his deputy, David Littleproud, looked absolutely miserable next to Barnaby on TV, although he says he was just cold. Word is that Matt Canavan moved the spill motion, and Littleproud’s support made the difference, in the interests of longer term stability.
If so, strange thinking. As Jennifer Hewitt says in the AFR today:
The public will now have a front row seat at Joyce’s more explosive brand of political fireworks. And he does bear grudges.
Barnaby Joyce as National Party warrior and Deputy PM has flamed out, and to mix metaphors is politically washed up for now, perhaps forever. The one certainty is that his pay will be sliced by about $200k. However, there is no easy agreement as to what has really happened and what it all means.
Like Labor, Turnbull and the Liberal Party had so far regarded Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with former staffer Vikki Campion as a private matter. As long as everything had been done within formal regulations, it didn’t matter that jobs had been found for Campion when her presence in Joyce’s office was no longer viable. It didn’t matter that a mate had given him free accommodation in Armidale, or that he had spent 50 nights in Canberra at taxpayers expense when parliament was not sitting.
The polls were diabolical back then – Turnbull had just chalked up his eighth losing Newspoll in a row. Now that has blown out to 25 and the situation has gotten worse. Back then the TPP vote was 52-48 in favour of Labor, now it is 54-46. Last year the Labor primary vote had nearly overtaken the Coalition, rising from an election deficit of 34.7-42.1 to 37-39. Now Labor leads 37-35.
Malcolm Turnbull in announcing a royal commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, to be led by former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, told us that the inquiry was entirely unnecessary, but the government was a couple of seats short and had effectively lost control of the agenda.
Chris Bowen, shadow treasurer, formally wrote to his counterpart Scott Morrison (AFR, pay-walled), saying that the inquiry was neither far-reaching enough nor adequately resourced, that there had been inadequate consultation over the terms of reference, plus the deliberate targeting of union-dominated industry superannuation funds – a political strategy which diminished its credibility. Continue reading Saturday salon 1/12→