Image from Lee Lee Chin for Wentworth FB
For two years from May 1987 Tony Fitzgerald QC turned a spotlight and then a fire hose on the corrupt Queensland Country Party regime of Joh Bjelke-Peterson, his henchmen and his blue-uniformed partners in crime. Four ministers were jailed, numerous coppers were convicted and the shop-soiled shyster himself was charged with perjury, narrowly escaping a stretch of porridge.
While in office the despotic old bumpkin and grifter cultivated an autocratic political climate of rampant corruption. Queensland became a magnet for white-shod carpet baggers, spivs and urgers. He was so emboldened by a lack of accountability, an outrageous gerrymander and his grand delusion of wide popularity that the Joh For PM freak show was assembled on the bizarre notion that the rest of the country would endorse an authoritarian crime boss as our head of the government.
That notion was quickly shot down in the court of public opinion and memory of the whole short-lived absurdity has faded - overtaken by the farce of a newer generation of rustic political pick-pockets re-branded as the National Party.
Abraham Lincoln observed that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
The National Party has traded on its ability to fool most of the yokels all of the time.
So brazenly confident were they of their right to country votes that they embraced as their federal leader another cartoonish oik - the "best retail politician in the country", the priapic, purple-headed member from New England, Barmy Barnaby Joyce, a man who has never let his expansive ignorance interfere with his forming of an opinion.
To paraphrase Joseph de Maistre, we get the politicians we deserve. Barmy received 73.63% of the two candidate preferred vote and 64% of the primary vote at the 2017 New England by-election. So New England deserves the Beetrooter - but by default the rest of us then inherited this blathering ignoramus as an MP; an opinionated blowhard who no doubt gets his notions at the same Tamworth servo where he gets his petrol, his Playboy magazines and his dentistry.
Surely hillbillies, rubes, yokels, hayseeds and banjo strummers do not make up 73.63% of the population of Tamworth, Armidale and their surrounds. What excuses can New Englanders offer for their enthusiastic support of an all too obvious paperhanger in a risible verandah-brimmed Akubra that remains untroubled by the sweat any any actual labour?
But Barmy The Beetrooter's shortcomings extend further than the purile gibberings of a provincial gobshite and comical, cardboard cut-out cow cocky.
While Bjelke-Peterson's supplementary income was delivered in brown paper bags such discretion is not Barmy's strong point. His favours are sought via such things as a $40,000 inducement in novelty cheque form presented at a glitzy agricultural event; gleefully received but grudgingly returned after monumental outrage.
Beetrooter's disregard for proprieties however is blatantly Bjelke-esque. Whether it's complacency on water theft from a distressed river system and indifference to its consequences, outrageous pork barreling, conflicts of interest or bag-carrying for mining magnates our hero is shameless.
The flimflam has been supplemented with spectacular hypocrisy - self-pityingly pleading for privacy on prime time television and from the front pages of newspapers while promoting his book; professing family values while boozing, womanising and shagging one of his staffers.
How is it that the straw-chewin' tyre-kickin' pastoralists and country town shopkeepers are so easily duped? Barmy is an entitled, in-it-for-himself, double dealing politician of the type the rustics rush to disparage, yet here they are nodding knowingly at Barmy's facile flatulence over a shout in the front bars of country pubs. Are rural folk simply gormless hayseeds - parochial, uninformed, uninterested? Are they so rusted on to the agrarian socialist party that has sold them out in favour of the big bucks from minng interests that they will continue to line up at the polling booths to piss all over decency, accountability and their own interests?
The price for standing up to the Nats in the bush used to be social ostracism and boycotts if you ran a rural business**. The good news is that there are signs that the waft from Barmy and his chums is now reaching boondocks nostrils. Bushies are no longer prepared to accept that the countryside is there to be raped and pillaged for profit, they are (belatedly) acknowledging the reality of anthropomorphic climate change and most country electorates supported marriage equality.
The Nats meanwhile, in thrall to donations from the mining industry, maintain their climate denialism, pimp for more coal mines and coal-fuelled power stations, look the other way on water theft and support wide-scale clearing of native vegetation, adhering to their old time ethos of "if it moves shoot it, if it doesn't chop it down".
“Water is wealth and a dam is a bank. Any essence of wealth is connected to water and water infrastructure. As they say you can make money out of mud, you can’t make it out of dust.” Barmy Joyce 2016.
Since falling from the Nat's top spot because his myopic belief in his own sex appeal was challenged by a Rural Woman of the Year via a sexual harrasment allegation Barmy has spent his time in parliament glowering from the backbenches at Michael McSomebody, his marionette-on-Mogadon replacement and plotting a return, claiming with his signature disregard for reality to be the “elected deputy prime minister of Australia” and declaring he would have no guilt in again seeking the Nat leadership.
Barmy instead belongs in Gina Rinehart's Home For Discarded Tory Politicians, polishing apples and running errands.
Is it too much to hope that come the election in May the voters of New England will push the button and use some of their remaining water to flush this turd?
Also posted on the Australian Independent Media Network
More on Barmy
Nationals face their biggest threat yet after an annus horribilis - Guardian Australia
Waste of money: Opposition calls for the scrapping of our Barnaby bank - Northern Daily Leader
Barnaby Joyce accused of tilting Murray-Darling authority towards irrigators - The Guardian Australia
Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment allegation - The Guardian Australia
Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, the Bush and Me - Barnaby Joyce. Book review
The Nationals Barnaby Problem - Independent Australia
*"...the confession in his autobiography that he was abusing “alcohol” and “carousing” in Canberra bars...
**… the Nationals run New England. If they don’t like you, that is the end of your career or business. Worse than the Masons.’
Barnaby Joyce: Peeling back the rumours - Independent Australia
*"A male witness we did locate and speak with did not see any initiating activity, but he did, allegedly, see a young girl in obvious distress at a Canberra pub in 2011. Then he saw an older female allegedly confront Joyce about his actions regarding the girl. And then he allegedly saw Joyce brush this woman off with what he was convinced was a pinch on the backside.
"After pub closing time, an allegedly inebriated Joyce, according to our witness, stood outside on the footpath in such a way the women felt intimidated and requested an escort to their cab."