Is Labor scared of Barnaby Joyce?
By John McDonnell.
The Labor party is mounting a full-on campaign against Barnaby Joyce. Titled ‘He is not on your side – the truth about Barnaby Joyse’ it contains several pages documenting Mr Joyce’s misdemeanours.
Among the claims are that he will destroy jobs in the regions, that he will prefer mining over farming, that he is profligate with taxpayers’ money and that he is a misogynist. The full-on and personal nature of the attack indicates that Labor is worried about the Nationals leader’s popularity in the bush.
And they have good cause to be concerned because Barnaby Joyce’s retail political skills are cutting through. An example is the Kevin Rudd over-reach as the vaccine saviour.
On Monday Mr Joyce told Sky News Australia in an exclusive interview that Labor education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek's comments on Sunrise that Kevin Rudd was responsible for getting the Pfizer doses were false.
“I’ve now been informed that the bleeding obvious was the truth, maybe this should suggest a little more caution before Ms Plibersek gets really excited about the next iteration of the genius of Kevin Rudd", he said.
It comes after a row between Mr Joyce and Ms Plibersek on Sunrise on Monday off the back of an "inaccurate" ABC report which claimed Kevin Rudd's influence may have brought the Pfizer vaccine rollout.
“It seems like Kevin Rudd and Australian business people in New York had to get those extra Pfizer doses, it's a bit disappointing the government didn't do that,” she said.
“What’s the point of Scott Morrison if he can’t get extra doses.”
After Pfizer released a statement saying the ABC report was inaccurate, Kevin Rudd released his own statement arguing he had not attempted to "negotiate on the government's behalf".
“Mr Rudd has not claimed responsibility for decisions by Pfizer and – as he made clear to Mr Morrison – all negotiating powers rested with the federal government,” the statement read.
“Mr Rudd would definitely not seek to associate himself with the Australian government’s comprehensively botched vaccine procurement program.”
Peter Dutton also ripped into Kevin Rudd on Monday.
“I suspect it wouldn’t take our greatest detective within the Queensland Police Service to identify who leaked that self-serving letter,” Mr Dutton told 4BC radio on Monday.
“Kevin claims credit for many things, it used to drive his Labor colleagues crazy.”
Apart from his ability to attack where it hurts, Labor is concerned about Mr Joyce’s message on climate change which ranges from the argument that it is not that big a deal to a claim that no one can trust the Chinese to adhere to an international agreement to cut emissions and that we would be fools to cut coal exports while the Chinese are increasing their CO2 output.
Barnaby Joyce has an uncanny ability to reduce controversial issues to simple statements. An example is his claim that Australia is dependent on fossil fuel exports not farming. This puts the debate about farming versus mining into perspective.
It is this sort of simple home truth that consolidates support for the Nationals in Central Queensland and the Hunter Valley and sends chills down the spines of Labor candidates in those areas.