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View from the Street: Peter Dutton's $55 million mista… sorry, good result!

And Barnaby Joyce's nemesis returns. Your news of the day, reduced to a snarky rant.

Episode V: The Windsor Strikes Back

Just after 10am Eastern Standard Time the nation was galvanised by the sound of a bestial roar of terror that echoed throughout the country.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, moments before choking on a fly.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, moments before choking on a fly. 

Parents clutched their children tight, grown men grew pale as they gazed toward the eastern horizon, and scientists frantically consulted their data.

Meanwhile, the oldest and wisest citizens nodded to each other grimly, muttering "struth, love - sounds like something's woken the Barnaby."

The horrifying confirmation came soon enough with the news that Tony Windsor, beloved former local member for the rural NSW seat of New England, had announced that he would be challenging for his old seat at the next election.

And that meant dark days ahead for the sitting member, Nationals leader and global dog-themed punchline, Barnaby Joyce.

Pow!

It's perhaps not reassuring for Barn to consider that Windsor has yet to lose an election.

He was an independent NSW MP for ten years, taking Tamworth from the Nationals, before resigning to contest New England (also taking it from the Nationals), which he held for 12 years before leaving politics at the 2013 election.

Joyce was parachuted into the seat and won easily, but he might not do quite as well when facing an actual challenger. A ReachTel poll of the electorate in January revealed that Windsor would likely win on Greens and Labor preferences - and that was two months before Windsor announced he'd challenge.

What's more, this is going to be a fund-draining extra battle for the Nationals because the 2016 election campaign will be extra long and therefore extra expensive, assuming that the PM calls that all-but-certain double dissolution election for July 2.

And that's going to be a particular issue for Joyce, because Windsor isn't just popular: the man is also loaded.

Daddy Windsbucks

Joyce has some serious strikes against him in the community too, having failed to stop the federal government approving the Shenua Watermark mine on what Joyce angrily declared to be "in the middle of Australia's best agricultural land." It's not a good look when your local MP fails to save faming land in his own electorate, especially when he's also the Minister for Agriculture.

And Barn will no doubt be planning to accuse Windsor of hypocrisy in opposing the mining approval yet profiting from selling properties to Whitehaven Coal. However, there are two problems with this plan.

One is that it just reminds everyone of Barn's impotence with regards mining companies. And two, as Windsor made $4.6 million from the deal, it means Big Tone's got much larger campaign war chest than Barn does.

So, worried Nationals MPs, get ready to fight for your seats secure in the knowledge that your party will be throwing all the money it can at New England in a desperate, undignified and possibly doomed battle to save your leader.

Dufferwatch

And it's been a day of triumphs for the Department of Immigration and BORDER FORCE!, led by our nation's premier climate change comedian Peter "Duffer" Dutton, who argued on Wednesday that spending $55 million to resettle two refugees in Cambodia was "a pretty good outcome".

Quick recap on exactly how pretty good Pete's outcome was: a deal was cut with Cambodia in which refugees housed on Nauru would be resettled last year. A total of five refugees were sent over, of which three subsequently chose to return to whatever it was that they were escaping rather than stay in Cambodia.

Then the Cambodian government told Australia that they really appreciated the $55 million they got out of the deal, but they wouldn't be taking any more refugees after all. Or returning any of the money.

"I think that is a pretty good outcome," Duffer told Channel 9, presumably while ignoring the sniggers of literally everyone in the room.

If you can't trust corrupt theocracies, who can you trust?

Now, on the face of it, it would seem that Dutton was fleeced by his Cambodian counterparts - which might not have been the biggest shock, given Cambodia's ranking as the 150th least corrupt nation out of 168, according to Transparency International.

But Dutton's not the only government minister whose only mistake is to be too gosh-darn trusting: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced that Australia are looking to cut a deal to send refugees back to Iran, on the cross-your-heart condition that they won't be subsequently punished for fleeing from the notoriously open-hearted and free-spirited Iranian regime.

And why wouldn't Julie trust them? Heck, Iran's merely the 130th least-corrupt nation - a full 20 countries less corrupt than Cambodia!

And sure, you might worry that people like gay refugee couple Nima and Ashkan would be put to death, since that's something that happens to homosexuals in Iran, but Jules is confident that it'll be fine after she makes Iran pinky-swear not to.

Heck, what more could Australia possibly do? Aside from, say, anything but this.

The power of good PR

Fortunately everything else regarding offshore detention is great. Oh, apart from the Department of Immigration raising doubts about how bad the Nazis really were.

On Tuesday the department released a sulky, defensive statement complaining that the mean old media was making "comparisons of immigration detention centres to 'gulags'," including "suggestions that detention involves a 'public numbing and indifference' similar to that allegedly experienced in Nazi Germany."

And it's that "allegedly" that caused a problem since it seemed to suggest that when assessing the domestic policies of Adolf Hitler, the Immigration Department felt that the jury was still out.

Excitingly they eschewed the typical mealy-mouthed "apology" strategy that most people would adopt in this sort of case.

No, they went for a far cooler one: playing the victim! You know, like adults!

"Any insinuation the Department denies the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany are both ridiculous and baseless," the second statement whined. "This has been wilfully taken out of context and reflects deliberate attempts to distort this opinion editorial to create controversy."

Oh, Duffer. It's great to see that no matter what horrors you and your department choose to "allegedly" inflict on people begging for our help you're still focused on who the real victims are.

And the sensitivity just keep coming

And that wasn't the government's only staggeringly tone-deaf decision today!

In keeping with the government's ongoing commitment to stopping the shameful scourge of domestic violence, it decided to… um, remove the right of public sector employees to take leave if they're the victims of domestic violence.

It's part of the especially brutal negotiation currently going on between the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Community and Public Sector Union, with the office of the Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, issuing a statement explaining that it wasn't a big deal because people could take other forms of leave if it was so gosh-darn important.

And V from the S isn't a high-powered PR whiz, but here's a bit of a tip: cutting domestic violence leave for public servants literally the day after International Women's Day looks almost as ham-fisted as implying that the Nazis were innocent victims of bad press.

The cocktail hour: farewell, fifth Beatle

Just as V from the S was going to press came the sad news that George Martin - the man who produced (almost) everything ever the Beatles ever recorded - has passed on, aged 90.

And just in case you're thinking "meh, knob twiddling dude, who honestly cares?", just listen to him talk about how he created the classic Strawberry Fields Forever from two different recordings, in two different keys, at two different speeds, like the super-genius that he was.

Recording shall not see your like again, Mr Martin. Pour a strong one in his honour, and let's meet back here tomorrow.

The top stories on smh.com.au on Wednesday:

1. Delays on Sydney Harbour Bridge after motorcycle crash
2. Parents of Olivia Inglis speak of their loss as horse that crushed daughter is euthanised
3. Sydney traffic chaos: It's time to grow up Sydney, and catch public transport
4. My School: The NAPLAN high achievers
5. I thought it was only a 24-hour bug. What I really had almost killed me

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