• Hannah Phillips

And We Thought it as a Slim Majority Already...

The word around the water cooler last Wednesday was all about speculation that Barnaby Joyce might quit federal politics in the wake of criticism about his decision to do a paid interview with Channel 7.

If the former Deputy Prime Minister were to step down, the beleaguered voters in the northern NSW Wales electorate of New England will have faced an election every year for four years: the double dissolution election in July 2016; the Joyce citizenship by-election in December last year; the embarrassment resignation by-election, if and when that happens; and the general election the Prime Minister has announced will take place early next year.

While Mr Joyce has maintained an unparalleled silence on the matter of his future prospects, we understand that the Nats are privately discussing the possibility and the risk of losing the seat to an independent.

And the majority would get even slimmer if Craig Kelly carried out his threat to quit the government if the “higher powers that be” do not secure his nomination in the face of a couple of preselection challenges although, given that he’s now told media that he’ll remain a Liberal no matter what happens, this appears to be unlikely.

Liberal preselection is getting very messy with Ann Sudmalis facing a challenge in her southern NSW seat of Gilmour and the shock defeat of Jane Prentice in Queensland, both of whom are said to have strong personal followings.

Is Barnaby’s Baby Bonus Ethical?

Barnaby Joyce has taken three weeks leave from Parliament to deal with a medical problem. He and his partner Vikki Campion have already recorded their interview with Channel 7 for which they are allegedly receiving $150,000 which will be placed in a trust fund for their son Sebastian.

These sorts of trust funds are often established for special purposes such as paying for a child’s education.

Barnaby and Vikki may be keen for young Sebastian to go to Riverview like his father.

There has been almost universal condemnation of Mr Joyce’s acceptance of money for making disclosures about his private life but, since nobody seems to be able to point to any political or ethical breach that he’s committed, it’s tempting to see the reaction as virtue signalling. It is worth examining the criticisms in detail.

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