Politics

Barnaby Joyce Wants His Old Job Back, Has No Idea How The Government Works

He's declared himself Australia's "elected Deputy Prime Minister".

Barnaby Joyce appears to be trying to win the Nationals leadership back.

Lock up your staffers, because Barnaby Joyce is back, baby! The former leader of the Nationals has made it very clear that he wants his old job back, and is prepared to throw the whole government under the bus to get it.

There have been rumblings for months that the current leader, Michael McCormack, might not last much longer in the position — his performance in the job has been pretty mild compared to Barnaby, one of the few Australian MPs who could genuinely be called a household name.

And despite the fact that Barnaby resigned in disgrace over a series of cascading scandals that began with him impregnating a staffer and ended with a painfully awkward Sunday Night interview, it seems like Barnaby’s old colleagues want him back too.

The leadership rumblings continued over the weekend, with an number of Nationals MPs saying McCormack wasn’t doing enough to fight for coal-fired power stations in Queensland. Seriously.

There are also grave fears that the Nationals will be wiped out in their rural heartland at the next election. They reckon that’s because McCormack is pretty dull and doesn’t cut through like Barnaby used to, but it’s also probably because the Nationals party is full of climate change denying, sexist, homophobes.

The rumblings then exploded into full on shenanigans this morning, when Joyce declared himself the “elected Deputy Prime Minister of Australia”.

Barnaby made the comments in an interview on the ABC, in which he said he wasn’t doing the numbers to roll McCormack, but would stand for the job if it was available.

“If there was a spill and the position’s vacant, I am the elected deputy prime minister of Australia, so I’d have no guilt at all in standing, but I don’t see that happening,” he told the ABC’s Fran Kelly.

“I’m not sourcing the job out and I’m certainly not looking for a spill, certainly do not want that in budget week, absolutely do not want that, but I’m not going to buggerise around with weasel words when you know exactly what the game plan is if certain events were going to occur, but they’re not going to occur.”

This was Barnaby being about as subtle as a fart it an elevator, telling his colleagues that he’s ready to return to the leadership as soon as they are. So now the only question is, when will the spill happen?

The next time Parliament sits (and therefore the next time a leadership spill could be called) is April 2, which is when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hand down his pre-election budget. The government will want plenty of clear air that week so they can talk themselves up.

Would the Nationals be stupid enough to call a leadership spill that week? Probably! It’s not like they’ve shown good judgement in the past.

For now, they’re trying to hose down speculation, saying they’ll at least wait until after the election before they make a move.

Is Barnaby Joyce “The Elected Deputy Prime Minister”?

No. That’s not how it works, champ.

What Barnaby probably means by this is that he was Nationals leader at the last election. The only thing he’s been “elected” as, is the member for his local electorate of New England, and formerly as the leader of the Nationals. But as we now know, Barnaby should never have been “elected” in 2016 at all, because he was a dual citizen at the time.

He resigned as Nationals leader and Deputy PM when it became pretty clear that everyone thought he was a bit of a dickhead. Leaving your wife and kids and for a staffer will do that.

There is no “elected” Deputy Prime Minister, just like there is no “elected” Prime Minister. There are MPs, and party leaders, and governments.

For what it’s worth, Prime Minister Scott Morrison (also unelected) declared this morning that there definitely won’t be a change in the leadership before the election, so you can probably bet there will be.