BARNABY Joyce has fallen on personally testing political times. He recently found himself slapped around after his dummy spit over Chinese investment in Cubbie Station.
Now his push for the seat of Maranoa, where he lives, has been thwarted - a major setback for his ambition to one day lead the Nationals and be deputy PM.
Sitting member Bruce Scott would have done the right thing if he had stepped aside for Joyce. Assuming there is a Coalition government next year, Scott will not be a minister in it. In contrast, Joyce has a bright future.
Joyce's aim has been to move at this election, so he would be in a good position to go for the leadership when Warren Truss had had enough. Truss, a steady and popular hand, is impregnable and Joyce knew he might have to wait quite a long time. But he would have a chance to learn in the big House and display his skills. If he doesn't find some other seat, he has to look to the following election, and who knows what leadership competitors would have emerged by then?
While some Nationals are disappointed, there will be a few Liberals quietly clapping Scott's decision. The economic dries despise Joyce; the possibility of his one day being deputy PM appals them. Tony Abbott, though, might feel for him - the two are quite close.