Shut them down? Not a chance, says Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Angela Milne
There are two very important things to help understand a person. One is their photo collection, because people will always take photos of what's important to them, which is why politicians generally have photos of themselves, meeting other people.
It's quite simple: if people have photos of a horse, they love horses; if they have photos of a dog, they love dogs; if they have photos of their family, they love their family; if they have photos of trees and mountains and wild freaky animals, they love the outdoors; and if they have photos of themselves, well, get ready to be tortured by a monotonous soliloquy. The other very important exposé´ into the darker cogs of an individual psyche is what they listen to. Mozart's Elvira Madigan, Radiohead's In Rainbows, current affairs or the audio version of Fifty Shades of Grey interspersed with gangsta rap. Let us say it is a very rare surprise that the character has diverted widely from the content.
However, on changing stations of the radio in the bathroom I was once more confronted by the next chapter of liberal politics being usurped by absurdity. Animals Australia and the RSPCA wanted to close down livestock selling centres. At the time I was in the shower before heading out to check cattle I was about to sell.
Why don't we just close down the CBD and get everyone to operate off the internet because it will help us reduce our carbon footprint? Why don't we shut down Parliament House and drain Lake Burley Griffin and ban lawnmowers? I hope people in our nation's capital realise how morally draining it is for people in rural areas to be continually confronted by the philosophical warrior from the manic monkey cafe, who rides in to shut another section of our life without them having to pay the price, but we wear all the consequences.
Let's cut to the chase. If our nation has a massive debt, our economy is peeling off. The shops are searching for clients, the vacancies are going up and just like your iPod in the car stacked with the best of Justin Timberlake, it does not augur well for a good conversationas you drive. Shutting down livestock selling centres, otherwise known as cattle yards, is a good sign that as a nation we are going to go broke.
While listening to these people the emotion that bubbles up in me is that they just don't seem to get it. The euphemistic promise of alternate income streams just does not happen. They've shut down the timber industry, they've shut down the fishing industry and they're always trying to shut down the mining industry. They're trying to shut down the kangaroo industry but after a lot of effort we are getting that one opened again.
With a carbon tax they want to shut down the affordable use of electricity. They believe every tree is sacred and frogs have as much right, if not more, than humans.
If they're not doing this, to show they have balance, they spend the rest of the time asking for the taxpayers and private enterprise to work more of their week for an ever-increasing public social infrastructure.
Yes, it's important to get the National Disability Insurance Scheme through and that's going to cost tens of billions of dollars.
But we've also got to have climate change departments, we have absolute desire for totally subsidised schooling from preschool to university, we want all our roads upgraded, we want a free public hospital and drugs to be funded by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, we demand our right to have our private guilt assuaged by the public picking up the tab for the millennium targets in aid and we still want to listen to a publicly paid broadcaster such as Radio National.
So I pose the question to the well-meaning woman who wishes to shut down the Roma, Dubbo, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Dalby, Albury-Wodonga, Casino, Rockhampton, Gracemere and Wagga livestock selling centres: do you ever ask yourself, how are we going to pay for anything? Can an economy actually work when no one produces anything?
Far from everyone taking in everyone else's washing, we just sit around philosophising about a world without washing.
However, we expect a direct credit into our bank account of a Friday from some omnipotent body to pay the mortgage.
Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate leader and the opposition spokesman for regional development, local government and water.