Federal Politics


Barnaby seals it with a dolphin in a dam

For a humble accountant from New England, Barnaby Joyce is no stranger to controversy.

Indeed, the Nationals Leader in the Senate is known for crossing the floor like other politicians cross the road. And he's famous for ''freelancing'' when contributing to the national conversation.

Most recently, Joyce has been leading the ''no way Jose'' case on the sale of Cubbie Station, while his Coalition pals, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, have backed the Foreign Investment Review Board advice.

Despite the vast opportunity for awkwardness, Joyce is not feeling awkward at all. Yesterday, he even had a new recipe for changing people's minds on the issue.

Gathering journalists together in the Mural Hall at Parliament, Joyce ventured that politics was suffering through some bizarre times right now.

''Only a matter of days ago I was being absolutely pilloried by the Labor Party and others, because apparently my position on Cubbie Station was a sovereign risk, that it was populist,'' he explained, before casting an eagle eye over the supertrawler bill.


''Then literally days later [Labor makes] a decision which is populist and a sovereign risk!''

But how could such an inconsistency occur?

''The difference between the two decisions seems to be seals and dolphins,'' Barnaby observed, Poirot-like.

''So if we can just get seals and dolphins into the dam at Cubbie Station, maybe we'll get a different outcome.''

The senator will have a chance to put his marine mammal idea to the National Party this weekend, with foreign investment on the agenda at its federal conference in Canberra.

And he's not afraid of freelancing there either; observing that the ''one thing'' he loves about conservative politics is that ''we actually have a debate''.

''The National Party that I've grown up with has ding-dong, knock-them-down, drag-them-out battles. And that's why we're fun to watch,'' he said.

It was not the most sensitive choice of words, as witnesses came forward yesterday to back up a claim Abbott swung a punch at a female political opponent at university.

Then again, who can argue with a dolphin in a dam?