Barnaby’s ‘mate’ Malcolm has done a runner
The backstabber, the adulterer and the consequences.
We said yesterday that good-0ld-mate Turnbull would throw poor-old-Barnaby under the bus. If you bend down you can see him under there, just in front of the rear wheels. While we don’t relish rubbing any more salt into the lad’s lashing. There exists fierce interest, MM’s page reads lead the numbers. If Joyce goes does the government follow?
The Australian: The Prime Minister’s office has denied knowledge of the relationship, saying Mr Turnbull did not approve the transfer of Ms Campion from Mr Joyce’s office to highly paid positions with Resources Minister Matt Canavan — where she was in line to earn up to $191,084 — and Nationals whip Damian Drum. Mr Turnbull shifted responsibility for the internal staff movements of Ms Campion to Mr Joyce, saying that approval for any changes needed to be given by the Nationals. He said his office had an administrative responsibility for “informing the Department of Finance”
Source: News Corp, Dennis Shanahan
Saws at the ready with Barnaby Joyce stranded on a limb
Barnaby Joyce is dangerously out on a limb.
What’s more, the bough is bending and Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal MPs, Nationals and the Labor Party are all sharpening their saws.
The Deputy Prime Minister is facing intensifying pressure to resign from cabinet and go to the backbench because of his handling of the transfer of his then staffer Vikki Campion, who will have his baby in April, to work in other Nationals’ offices.
The Nationals are stunned and confused at how the story is unravelling for the Nationals leader, Liberals are angry and telling their country cousins that Joyce has to go, respected former Nationals leader John Anderson has called for a resolution, and the Prime Minister — “mate and friend” of Joyce on the night of the New England by-election victory — has completely distanced himself from the whole issue.
The ALP is giving the Coalition a master class in political strategy and parliamentary tactics, refusing to make personal comments but making Joyce’s judgment and behaviour the issue.
By blindsiding him in question time with portfolio questions — and not giving Joyce the opportunity to use his prepared answer, which sat unused on his frontbench seat — Labor provoked Joyce into errors and bombast.
That only detracted further from his image and left Turnbull further embarrassed when he vowed he had confidence in his deputy and he planned to have him as acting prime minister next week.
Labor didn’t over-reach and left the Nationals leader hanging, but while Labor has exploited the issue, it was not of Labor’s creation.
Joyce didn’t act when he had the chance to take control of the issue before it was revealed last week. His first television interview had a mixed and confused message and he still hasn’t openly addressed the issue of the taxpayer funds involved in the staff transfers.
He is facing growing Coalition anger and isolation.
The mishandling of the affair, and the entrenching of the perception that there has been a conflict of interest, a misuse of public funds, and a denial of reality are hurting the government and the Nationals.
Turnbull’s optimistic return to the parliamentary year after a one-point rise in the two-party-preferred support for the Coalition in the latest Newspoll is turning sour, as once again the government starts a year in a fumbling fashion while Bill Shorten deflects his own political problems.
Faced with the prospect of being dragged into a messy political farce, the Prime Minister ensured he was prepared in question time yesterday and essentially cut Joyce adrift while defending his own office.
Turnbull, and then Treasurer Scott Morrison, declared the Nationals and “the leader of the Nationals” were the masters of their own destiny when it came to staff appointments and transfers — the key public-interest area of whether there was a misuse of public funds.
Long gone was the shirt-matching matey behaviour at the New England by-election victory in December. It had been replaced with a cool detachment and outright blame shifting.
Turnbull didn’t want to be caught in a “travel rorts” style trap that cost John Howard three ministers and his chief of staff in 1997, a year after he won office, because of cover-ups and shifting responsibility.
Turnbull limited admissions to the role of his office in signing off administrative arrangements regarding Campion but determined by the Nationals. Unfortunately for Turnbull, his parliamentary cauterisation was hampered by his office’s briefing that Campion was not Joyce’s “partner” because he was still married.
The faux justification of being unable to employ your wife but being able to hire your mistress and observe the ministerial code will play out to Turnbull’s detriment.
But it is Joyce facing the greater challenge and risk as his scrambled personal life and family devastation bleeds into the political drama that damages him and the government more and more each day.
There comes a point when a leader’s position is untenable, no matter what the cause or justice of it, and Joyce is now close to that point.