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After the week he went through, we should cut Barnaby some slack.
Day after day, he had to endure that strange reversal in which the Opposition and not the government found itself held to account. Not just in the question time theatre of the absurd but on national TV, as the knives came out on Nemesis, that excruciating post-mortem on nine years of Coalition government.
Barnaby featured heavily in the documentary, his language that of a red-faced bloke trying to rethread an old whipper snipper in the heat and humidity and blowflies.
And there he was again, this time on the lawns of Parliament House, trying to mobilise an army against reckless renewables, no small task given the disparate mob before him. Trying to align the interests of genuinely concerned farmers, pushing back against wind and solar farms and transmission lines, with anti-vaxxers and conspiracists convinced the World Economic Forum and World Health Organisation are coming for their children. That would exhaust anyone.
Put yourself in his RMs just for a minute. Who wouldn't sink a few bevvies on a Friday night after that week from hell? Who wouldn't forget that prescription medicine and booze don't mix? And all you wowsers out there ignore how focused the man is. No one else could fall off a planter box yet continue to have a phone conversation. He might have looked like a Christmas beetle on its back but the bloke kept the call going. Kept it scintillating too, with language so profane it's unfit to print.
Barnes is not the first and won't be the last Australian pollie caught tying one on.
As ACTU president, Bob Hawke was an infamous boozer. He gave it up when he aimed for the top job but after his political career ended was cheered for downing beers. He even has a brew named after him.
There was the curious case of Malcolm Fraser losing his trousers in a Memphis hotel in 1986.
In 1987, former Liberal Billy Snedden made infamous headlines when he died from an apparent heart attack in a Sydney hotel room, believed to have occurred during sex with an unknown woman.
In 2007, then opposition leader Kevin Rudd apologised after it was revealed he'd visited a New York strip club, drinking so much he had little memory of the evening.
At least Barnes chose a more prosaic location for his latest fall from grace. And mercifully he didn't have far to fall, not after his shenanigans that led to Malcolm Turnbull's prime ministerial bonk ban. But he's done Canberra a favour, adding another tourist drawcard to the national capital, where nothing much happens outside the Capital Hill hothouse.
A plaque's been placed on the planter box, a chalk outline drawn on the footpath where the shadow minister lay. Guided tours will be next. You can already hear the pitch: "Join us as we retrace the steps of one of Parliament's greatest survivors. He survived Pistol and Boo, the citizenship debacle, got through the bonk ban scandal, stayed on when others fell by the wayside. Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison. He outlasted them all. Then he fell off a planter box."
He'll bounce back, of course, our Barnes. Like one of those weighted inflatable punching bags you had in the 1960s. You'd whack them and they'd come straight back at you. An apology. A shrug. A finger pointed at all the nasties who insist the episode is a real issue, the Greens and Labor staffers with whom Peter Dutton reckons the capital is infested.
Really, there's nothing to see here, just Barnes out (of it) on a Friday night. Nothing unusual about that.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Were you shocked by the video of Barnaby Joyce lying on the Canberra footpath? Or was it business as usual? Is there an alcohol problem in our Parliament? Would we have shrugged it off had it been, say, Jim Chalmers lying on that footpath? Email us: email@example.com
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- One in 12 people employed at Parliament House have reported feeling bullied and harassed at work, but no follow-up has occurred. The findings were outlined in a staff survey conducted by the Department of Parliamentary Services.
- A failure to teach Australian children to read properly is costing students and the broader economy billions of dollars over their lifetimes. One in three students are not meeting Naplan's minimum standards for literacy and key public policy think tank the Grattan Institute says the problem is entirely preventable.
- The Environmental Defenders Office faces a federal government review after claims it coached witnesses and confected evidence in a fossil fuel court case. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has told her department to look at whether the legal unit is satisfying an agreement over federal grant money.
THEY SAID IT: "Getting sober was one of the three pivotal events in my life, along with becoming an actor and having a child. Of the three, finding my sobriety was the hardest thing." - Gary Oldman
YOU SAID IT: As Qantas and Optus try to clean up their image, Allan Fels points the finger at banks, supermarkets and energy companies for inflating their prices.
"Once again you've excited me to comment," writes Bruce from Tumbarumba. "I was a loyal Qantas customer once, but they ripped me off for a flight I was forced to cancel in COVID. They said they had no record! Such bull! In a few weeks Colleen and I are flying to Europe via Singapore Airlines. I don't trust Qantas at the moment, I didn't even get a price from the mongrels."
Lee writes: "I think Allan Fels just confirmed what many of us suspected. I have always wondered why people buying groceries, getting hair cuts and maybe even going on holiday were responsible for inflation when the big businesses, especially the banks were pulling in such huge profits."
"Your story was unfair to labradors," writes Michael on behalf of his puppies. "All dogs are in this same boat. We labradors are kind to humans, and return their interest, love and affection. Not like those nasty airlines. And some of us eat our own poo, to help clean up the mess. Again not like that nasty phone company or gambling casino."
Jim writes: "It's very easy to criticise but much harder to make a profit to keep a business viable. Customers don't own the business and can go elsewhere, owners can't. Are the public really upset or is it journalists stirring the pot?"
"Of course they're price gouging," writes James. "The government allows it, the industries need to be regulated again. Bringing in more competition may slap the greedy in the face short term, but what's stopping the new competition from doing the same? We've already seen how the government has handled increased fuel prices (they haven't) and the fuel industry along with every other industry, is doing as it pleases. The government does not care, it's just more taxes and potential votes when it sells its lies on how it will fix cost of living."
Sharon writes: "John, John, John, you are making an assumption that company bosses care about their company reputation. They don't give a poo. They take the money and run. Yeah, run off to the next overpaid job."
"Prior to the 1980s, Australian governments had long recognised that non-competitive, deregulated capitalism would distort wealth distribution in favour of corporate shareholders," writes Vince. "To limit this they had created publicly owned enterprises, regulated the finance industry, disallowed the formation of non-competitive corporate oligopolies, and thus sought to regulate corporate greed. In the early 1980s our leaders sycophantically followed Reagan and Thatcher and surrendered to corporate greed, which we disguised by calling it neoliberalism. We pretended that free (no price controls) markets, corporate deregulation, privatisation of publicly owned enterprises, minimal government spending on public works, lowering of corporate taxation, and assignment of personal responsibility for whatever happened to individuals, would be good for us. Well, it certainly was, for corporate Australia - ask Allan Fels."