LIKE Yevgeny Prigozhin, Barnaby Joyce marched feebly on the capital at the weekend for reasons comparably arcane. The Daily Telegraph reports that the former National Party chief wants his old job back. That’s believable but the beefs cited as a pretext for rebellion are a little synthetic. Their sudden debut should also be regarded as suspicious – revealed, as they were, in the newspaper that employs Mr Joyce’s girlfriend. David Littleproud – who bested him fair and square in affray last year – has allegedly been quite rude to staffers (!) and his willingness to play second fiddle to Peter Dutton is seen as infra dig. It’s impossible to take the latter criticism seriously given that a majority of Nationals voted to betray their constituents by supporting net zero in late 2021 out of obedience to Scott Morrison. Like Albo, Molly and Kylie, Barnaby is a one-name national figure (David isn’t) and is still a retail draw. Comedians and crashes always are.
If there is buyer’s remorse over endorsing the climate hoax – and land-vandalising wires, poles and panels – it makes a modicum of sense to rehabilitate Joycean improv because the member for New England voted against that surrender. Unless he intends to orchestrate a repudiation of his party’s support for a 2050 ‘target,’ however, the existential danger of fraternising with the urban left will only create fresh problems. There is a dual notion abroad in the Nationals that pushing for nuclear power expiates the net zero disgrace and that cost-of-living polemics obviate the need to campaign for the revival of a fossil-fuel economy. As far as I can make out, Mr Joyce is in this camp – even if he does play the livid white knight for coal on Sky after dark. Barnaby looks 70 but he and capable Queenslander Keith Pitt – the other man being mentioned in dispatches – are in the prime of their political lives. They should act accordingly or stand aside for two younger stars not serving up tofu as red meat: Matt Canavan and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.