Joyce already in the scrum

If everyone’s playing on the same team in the Coalition, state colours shouldn’t matter...

BARNABY Joyce’s move to take on Independent MP Tony Windsor for the NSW seat of New England seems to have sparked some internal division around state based parochialisms within the National party.

Party sources say the Queensland LNP division are “shitty” about Senator Joyce’s move south to return to his state of origin, NSW, while others are saying Queensland's loss is NSW’s gain.

But if everyone’s playing on the same team in the Coalition, state colours shouldn’t matter and the best players should hold down key positions to implement a winning strategy and achieve overall victory.

In reflection, the Queensland division may only have themselves to blame for losing a key player after Bruce Scott - who turns 70 this year - refused to budge and allow Senator Joyce passage into the House of Representatives via Maranoa.

Mr Scott has held the Queensland rural seat for the Nationals since 1990 and reading between the lines, seems to have decided to seek another term last year, just to block Senator Joyce’s run for the goal line to become the party’s potential leader and even one day stand as the acting Prime Minister.

There’s little doubt Senator Joyce has exerted a huge influence for regional Queensland since his election to the Senate in 2005, with his public popularity clearly outweighing Nationals leader Warren Truss and many others.

The maverick Senator has shown a willingness to stand up tall and fight hard for his political beliefs, having crossed the floor 19 times to vote against his own team, while serving during the Howard government.

He’s also the highest profile National and the one most-chased by the Canberra press gallery for comment - which often brings mixed results or unwanted jealousies.

While some Nationals sit around the party room devising how to gain public recognition or media traction on key issues, Senator Joyce has already spent game time laying repeated ideological tackles on his team’s green, red or independent opponents.

His comments can often represent a high or clumsy tackle, and cause internal injuries, like his outspoken views on foreign investment or wheat export marketing regulations, which grate on the nerves of free-market Liberals.

But love or loathe his style of politics, Barnaby’s the one people recognise first and approach in country pubs, to shake his hand and share a beer and the one they cheer for loudest at public rallies.

Money can't buy the notoriety he’s achieved for the nation-wide National party brand in recent times and never will.

Senator Joyce started out in politics representing the Nationals as a Queensland Senator, but his political views have been shaped by a mixture of life experiences in regional NSW and the current address at St George in western Queensland that he’s about to vacate.

He was born in Tamworth and raised on the family’s sheep and cattle property.

He earned a commerce degree from the University of New England in Armidale that he put to good use as a rural accountant.

Trying to relocate his office into the House of Representatives won’t change any of that past life experiences or undercut his fighting attitudes towards the bush.

In the current party set-up, he’s the shadow minister for water and regional Australia and tackles issues like foreign investment and the Murray Darling Basin fearlessly on behalf of all rural constituents, not just Queensland.

Rather than calling either Queensland or NSW home, Barnaby Joyce calls rural Australia home and has always had NSW blood pumping underneath his Queensland guernsey.

Canberra is the nation’s elite political stage and given Senator Joyce’s sporting background and having played a few games in country football leagues, he’d be the first to acknowledge the importance of a strong front row.

He turns 46 this week and now has some of his best political years ahead to stand in that front line and fight.

And he’ll be starting with his strong desire to return stable government and hold Mr Windsor to account, at grassroots level, for backing Labor in the hung parliament and producing three years of relentless political scandal, economic mismanagement and poor policy outcomes.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


20/04/2013 4:59:43 AM

Sir Barnaby, when the mongrel is lying on the bottom of the ruck, rake him to shreds for the sake of all of us!
Jack M.
20/04/2013 5:43:52 PM

The New England area has done very well thanks to Tony Windsor. Funding, the NBN in Armidale and excellant representation have been some highlights. The question a lot of locals here are asking is "What's in it for us?" So far the Nationals are making no promises, and the Liberals are threatening cuts across the board. For a regional area, the esoteric issues are not important. I think a lot of voters are sticking with Tony Windsor in order to avoid being "punished" by the National/Liberal cuts.
21/04/2013 5:53:22 PM

If Windsor is still there after the election don't expect much from him. He won't have the PM over a barrel like he has now. She will give anything to hold power. He will be a feather duster after the election - not top rooster like he is now.
5/05/2013 7:46:45 PM

Here comes Australia's Sarah Palin? Joyce as a potential Deputy PM, oh my God! And hope not. One thing is for sure New England will not see the kind of dollars secured under the current hung parliament, whoever is elected in the next federal election. A rare opportunity that we should cherish not criticise. Lest we forget that all politicians are self serving to their ego. Look at Mr Torbay as the most recent example. Not the first, and not the last.
Ted O'Brien.
5/05/2013 9:00:13 PM

I am very disappointed to see Barnaby Joyce and Tony Windsor nominating for the same seat. We don't deserve to lose one of them. Tony Windsor made an awful mistake when he fell for the AGW scam and allowed the carbon tax. He is not alone there. Apart from that his positives far outweigh his negatives. I won't have it that he is the villain many paint him. It would have brought screams of outrage, but I wish Barnaby Joyce had sought preselection just up the road in Groom. I have long regarded Ian Macfarlane as a dedicated bookworm economist. Bookworms are the bane of our lives.
Canberra CommentFairfax Agricultural Media Canberra correspondent Colin Bettles tackles the big national rural and agricultural issues which will impact regional and rural Australians.


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