Politics is the natural stage for egotists, narcissists and attention-seekers.
So it was no surprise today to see Barnaby Joyce, who is all these things and more, force a spill of the National party leadership to reclaim the deputy prime ministership he obviously believes is rightly his.
The actual vote hasn’t been revealed but reported as 11-10. That close, don’t believe any Joyce assurance he won’t challenge again. He wants it, believes he deserves it, and won’t rest until he gets it.
But he doesn’t deserve it.
Joyce lost the Nationals leadership because of his fecklessness, serial misjudgments and wilful damage to his party and the Coalition.
It’s not simply that he put his pecker where he shouldn’t. It’s the chaos he caused when his New Zealand birth caused a needless by-election. It’s the way he mangled the Barnababy crisis, and especially his selfishly blaming everyone but himself for his own sordid marital mess. And, having retained his New England seat, it’s the way that he just couldn’t put his head down and give his uncharismatic successor but nice bloke, Michael McCormack, a fair go and clear air.
Now he’s split a party room right down the middle, undercut the Prime Minister’s determination to reassure Australians the Coalition’s in charge in the wake of the summer’s fire crisis and Bridget McKenzie’s incompetence — and taken a competent cabinet minister with him in Matt Canavan. He’s nothing but a wrecker.
But what makes Joyce’s actions truly unforgivable is that today’s spill was on a day when parliament is to focus on the victims of summer’s bushfire destruction and the heroes who risked their lives to help. That we are talking about a petulant, selfish Joyce and not those truly deserving Australians underlines the blinkered narcissistic selfishness of Joyce’s actions.
The Barnaby Joyce of old, the outstanding retail politician whose cultivated country bumpkin persona masked a shrewd policy and political brain, is no more. In his place is a political mad uncle, whose frequent eruptions have been indulged too long by his colleagues and who himself seemingly doesn’t care about the harm he does to his team as long as what Barnaby wants, Barnaby gets.
For not just the good of the National party, but the good of the Morrison Coalition government — already under pressure on too many fronts — it’s time for Uncle Barnaby to go back to his attic.
And stay there.
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