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Champagne Socialist
12,777 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The power of one in the bush
April 16, 2005

Barnaby Joyce in the cotton fields of his home district. "They say I'm unsophisticated, irrelevant and they are going to wipe me out."
Photo: Eddie Safarik

The man who says he doesn't like Liberals could turn John Howard's dreams into a nightmare, Jason Koutsoukis reports.

It takes seven hours to drive the 525 kilometres west from Brisbane to remote St George, the home of Nationals senator-elect Barnaby Joyce.

Amid the cotton fields of south-western Queensland is the man determined to remake his party in the mould of its icons, John "Black Jack" McEwen and Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Joyce is pivotal to the Federal Government's fortunes this term, yet he delights in mocking his future Coalition partners - the Liberals.

"To tell you the truth, I have never really liked Liberals much. They all think they have something special happening in their lunchbox."

This is the man John Howard is relying on to give the Coalition a precarious one-vote majority in the Senate from July 1.

To sell the remaining public slice of Telstra - and pass all the other things the Senate has blocked over the past nine years - the Prime Minister is praying that Joyce will do what all the others on his team usually do and vote the way they are told.

But leaning back in his rural accountancy practice in the heart of this prosperous Queensland farming district, Joyce is adamant the Nationals won't be kicked around any more.

"If the vote on Telstra was tomorrow, would I vote for it? No way. Not a chance."

Looking up with pride at an autographed portrait of former Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Joyce says the Nationals have to better represent country people.

"Why are the Liberals so shocked at what I am saying on Telstra? It's my party's policy, for goodness sake. Why should I represent the Liberal view? I'm in the National Party and we have an alternative view."

Joyce says he will take a lot of convincing to change his mind on Telstra, especially if Communications Minister Helen Coonan is doing the talking.

"Helen is so typical of that Liberal elite from Sydney's eastern suburbs whose main view of the world is the harbour. Just completely out of touch with working rural Australia," he says.

Joyce relates the last time Coonan tried to get in touch with him. "I picked up the phone the other day and this very superior sounding woman from Helen's office told me that 'Senator Coonan will be on the Sunshine Coast at the weekend' and would I like to pop down and see her," he says, his tall frame shaking with laughter.

"Well, no, I couldn't just 'pop' down. It's a nine-hour drive from here to the Sunshine Coast. Did she think I had nothing to do for the next three days?

"Coonan has the ministerial jet, she is on the public purse, and she wants my vote on Telstra - I don't want anything from her - and yet here she is between sessions at the opera and her beloved French restaurants telling me to drop everything to rush to see her. The arrogance is breathtaking."

He's sick of being jumped on by Liberals for expressing party policy. "They want to kick me out of the Coalition. They say I'm unsophisticated, irrelevant and they are going to wipe me out. If your wife told you that, you'd be asking for a divorce."

So who is this enigmatic figure who has emerged from nowhere to loom as gatekeeper to the Federal Government's legislative agenda?

"People say I'm a maverick. Wrong. A maverick is someone who represents himself - not a constituency... anyone who thinks I am going to become an independent like Bob Katter has completely misread me.

"I have not joined the Nationals to tear them down. I am passionate about this party - and the conservative Coalition - and I am going to help rebuild the National Party by standing up for the things our supporters - working rural people - believe in."

The issues that top his list of priorities are: getting the same phone services for the same price in the country as in the cities, different tax rates for people in regional zones, ethanol in every petrol tank, and weakening the power of Coles and Woolworths.

"That's what the 324,000 people who voted for me want. So get used to hearing about it."

Joyce also wants to emphasise his different in style to other Nationals, such as fellow Queenslander Ron Boswell who he believes is a "lost cause".

"Bosi's way of doing things are over, I'm afraid. We can't afford to run around like puppy dogs panting that we get things done 'because I'm friends with John Howard'. Country people want to see a little more muscle. You think Black Jack McEwen and Doug Anthony ran around fawning over Robert Menzies and Malcolm Fraser?"

Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce, 38, grew up in the northern NSW township of Danglemah. His father, James Joyce, was a New Zealander who moved to Australia to study veterinary science at Sydney University where he met Barnaby's mother, Marie, and they made their living as farmers.

"My father was injured in the Second World War, and he came to Sydney on a scholarship," Joyce says. The Joyce family has a proud history of military service. His grandfather John landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and finished World War I on the Western Front. He also fought in the Second World War, and in between the wars served as bodyguard to the future King Edward VIII. Barnaby served in the Army Reserve.

One of six children - he has four brothers and a sister - Joyce describes his upbringing as austere and intellectually rigorous - "totally enthused by each other's company, they ooze brains. The family home was wall-to-wall books. Every dinner time a political argument of some kind."

His parents' politics are different to his own. His mother would vote for Kim Beazley before John Howard - Joyce says she believes Howard has brought Australia down - and both his parents are staunch republicans whereas he is a monarchist.

On social issues too he is more conservative. "I'm a strong Catholic. I'm anti-abortion, I'm anti death penalty and I'm going to be standing up for conservative family values."

By the time he was born, Joyce's parents could afford to send him to boarding school and they chose Riverview, the exclusive Catholic boys school in Sydney. "It helped me in many ways. I was very good at rugby, I made friends, but I knew that I was not that kind of person. I didn't have much in common with that privileged class of people. It will help me get into the Canberra groove, but... really, the Liberals remind me of Riverview."

He studied accountancy at the University of New England in Armidale, where he met his wife Natalie, who is part Lebanese. Joyce's parents were against their marriage. "I remember entering the church to be married and on her side every pew was taken by family and friends. On my side only two pews were taken. None of my family came... It was very hard to take at the time, but I always kept the door open and now that is far behind us. We are fully reconciled."

After graduation, Joyce moved around northern NSW and southern Queensland - working for a time as a nightclub bouncer in Moree, which earned him 26 stitches on his face, and later as a rural banker in Charleville - before settling in St George eight years ago.

"It's remote here, only 3000 people and 200 kilometres from the nearest town. But my wife fell in love with the place so we decided to hang out the shingle and see what happened. We had no money. My desk was a hand-me-down from St Vincent de Paul, the chair a Westpac Bank reject. But we worked hard. We've made a good living."

He and Natalie have four daughters, and live in the house they built behind his office - an old bank building.

Joyce joined the Nationals in 1995, and has hankered for a life in politics. The 2001 election was his third as a candidate. This time he got lucky.

"Now I just can't wait to get my hands dirty. This is an exciting time for people in rural Queensland. I hope I can live up to their investment in me.

"I may not succeed, but I'm going to give it everything I have."


"Helen is so typical of that Liberal elite from Sydney's eastern suburbs whose main view of the world is the harbour. Just completely out of touch with working rural Australia," he says.
just beautiful! :hilarious

Lacking an Akubra!
4,546 Posts
Booooo!!!! :rant:, Stuff the Liberals, and certainly Stuff the Nationals, Stuff them all. :down: :bleep: :mad: :soapbox: :mad2:, stuff them all I say, Labor Rules and nobody realises it, stuff the Coalition (In Both Ways, i.e the War on Terrorism and Government Party), stuff all those liberals and nats, stuff them all. :mad2: :bleep:

Your all must think I'm Crazy :crazy:
and you are thinking :uh:

I am Crazy :crazy:

Champagne Socialist
12,777 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The nationals aren't all that bad - it just depends on which state branch you're talking about, i.e. the Victorian Nationals are primarily small farmers who despise the Collins Street capitalists (pretty much the Liberal party but also the ALP are merging into that role as well) and generally don't really see eye to eye with the Liberals - and never have (in Victoria at least).

It's the fact they're slaves to the Liberal party is what sucks. The rare outburst such as the one in this article is what the Nationals are good for, we just don't get to see it much :(

Watch my Chops
6,075 Posts
I hope He Kicks the Libreals in the balls enough. :)

My fav Party is the democrats but they need to give a alternitive modern humanist veiw thats less nerdy more powerfull and really try to move the greedy population that have no nowledge of economics. And get fooled into beleiving Libreals are economicly responsible.

We have gone to war in Iraq all this does is furthen anger between our races and makes the west look more evil. This is no war of good and bad. But one of a complete miss understanding and the greed of US, AUS and the Islamic leaders. Sorry had to say that its been bugging me so i have to say it so often. :cheers:

Well i hope he does everything to put a hult of 2.5 years on the libreals.

All the way with PJK
921 Posts
From Macbeth:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Adapted by Tony P:

The National Party is but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets its hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale,
Teeming with idiots, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The problem with the Nationals is that when it comes to the crunch, they'll vote on their 'social values' well ahead of their constituency. Howard need only say to him "Geeze, a few of the libs are looking to vote with Labor to lower the age for homosexual consentual sex to 16, ... I might be able to bring them into line, but mate, we'll need your help passing the Telstra sale bill', and for god botherers like Joyce, this will be an issue that's more important than his constituency. This attitude has really done them in in the last 2 decades, and soon they'll be irrellevant. They've done nothing for their constituency in the last 20-30 years and have existed, it seems, solely to help the libs block the more progressive issues like the Republic etc.

They've had no qualms voting with the Libs (and Labor) to destablise city folk's working conditions (job security measures reduced, union power reduced etc) because thet's part of their ideology, and have extracted all manner of bribes and pork barrelling in return for such voting patterns, yet when the farmers are required to get into line regarding rationalisation etc, they cry poor with their hand out for subsidies and protection.

**** them.

You can mock Helen Coonan and the sophisticated city elite's view of the world all you want, Barnaby Joyce, but more than 324,000 people have a harbour view. Shove that up your subsidised deisel powered pipe and smoke it.

692 Posts
^ Heh heh. I think it's beautiful every time another Half-arsed Nat incumbent falls to an independent here or there. And John Anderson almost exploding in parliament like that scene in Scanners, after the Tony Windsor thing, was the best thing I've ever seen on television.

All the way with PJK
921 Posts
My goodness, I didn't think I'd be proven correct in less than a day! Senator Julian McGauran from the National Party was just on 60 Minutes leading the charge against abortion.

Can't we just call the National Party "Family First" and be done with it?! The sooner the rural community realsise they're not represented at all, the better. I'm with you Randwicked, I also think it's beautiful every time another Half-arsed Nat incumbent falls to an independent.

298 Posts
jacobsian said:
The Nationals won't let Telstra be sold until remote towns like bungawungachooboo population 17 get T3 connections to their bathrooms before Adelaide gets actual cable to more than 5 suburbs.
My sentiments exactly. Oh, sorry, I'm forgetting that everyone who lives in the city is a rich pretentious bastard. They can afford to not only pay for their own broadband, but also the infrastructure costs to bring it to those who probably won't use it (to the capacity given) anyway.

36 Posts
Don't forget the rich city folk must also foot the bill when the weather turns bad. Who needs insurance? Who even needs a buyer for what you're selling these days? Oh and city folk really appreciate being sold the crap that couldn't be exported.

Champagne Socialist
12,777 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Death of a populist
By Phil Dickie
April 24, 2005

Illustration: Spooner

Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen's stock response of 'Don't you worry about that' belied a reign that left many feeling decidedly anxious.

Former premiers usually pass without much notice beyond the boundaries of their home state. Not so Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, Queensland premier from 1968 to 1987, who died yesterday, aged 93. Indeed, in the biography stakes, Sir Joh was the most written about politician of the last century, with four biographies and one alleged autobiography — easily surpassing not only his contemporaries Sir Henry Bolte and Sir Robert Askin, but also Sir Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser.

Longevity in office — he missed a 20-year term as premier by just nine months — was only a minor factor in Sir Joh's notoriety. Much more credit has to go to his meddling on the national political stage, which played significant roles in bringing the government of Gough Whitlam and John Howard's first tilt at the prime ministership undone.

In November 1986, Sir Joh led Queensland's Nationals to their first absolute victory over both the ALP and the Liberal Party and immediately set his eyes on becoming prime minister.

But the Joh for PM campaign foundered when then prime minister Bob Hawke called an early election and Joh's premiership soon looked like going the same way, as revelations of corruption tumbled out of the Fitzgerald inquiry. Sir Joh forestalled the first party move against him by announcing he would retire on his 20th anniversary in office, but a second gambit — sacking almost all his senior cabinet — backfired when the party sacked him.

For a bizarre few days, Sir Joh refused to stand down, even canvassing the possibility of ruling with ALP support with Labor Party secretary Peter Beattie. Sir Joh finally left office and Parliament with notably poor grace on December 1, 1987, and thereafter tended to lend his public support to conservative opponents of his former party, including One Nation.

He was later put on trial on charges of perjury relating to his evidence to the Fitzgerald inquiry about $100,000 in cash brought to his office in a brown envelope by an Asian developer. A second jury, empanelled after the court was alerted that two former police associated with the defence team may have had improper contact with members of the previous jury, failed to reach a verdict. Jury foreman Luke Short, one of just two holdout votes, was later revealed to have been at least a sympathiser, if not an actual member, of an organisation known as Friends of Joh.

Sir Joh's trademark response to media queries — "Don't you worry about that" — is possibly rivalled in the Australian political lexicon only by Malcolm Fraser's reputed utterance: "Life wasn't meant to be easy." His expression for dealing with journalists — feeding the chooks — also remains useful and in use. Johannes Bjelke-Petersen was born in Dannevirke, New Zealand, on January 13, 1911, and had polio as a child. He became a notable rural entrepreneur from his base in the South Burnett area around Kingaroy, pioneering, among other things, the Queensland way of mass land clearing by stringing anchor cable between bulldozers.

He entered Parliament in 1947 but his time as a backbencher is now mainly remembered for a speech condemning Labor's gerrymander as an affront to democracy.

Then he put his time as works minister to good use building up favours with construction projects in the electorates of colleagues. They made him deputy Country Party leader in January 1968. Seven months later, premier Jack Pizzey suffered a heart attack and Bjelke-Petersen was premier. He very nearly became one of the state's shortestserving premiers in October 1970, surviving a party room vote only by suddenly producing a proxy vote from a member who was overseas (and unable to be contacted by anybody).

From this early setback, Sir Joh went from strength to strength and became known for his determination to develop the state at all costs. Undoubtedly, this is how he would most like to be remembered. Brisbane flowered as a city as it hosted first the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and then Expo '88. Cranes on the skyline was one of Sir Joh's favourite measures of prosperity. Other much heralded initiatives included the abolition of death duties, which sparked a wave of interstate migration that still continues, and the development of Queensland's huge coal basins.

Sir Joh also kept Queensland in the soundest of financial positions and made much of the fact that he headed the lowest-taxing state.

But a darker side existed to Joh's Queensland. Much of the economic magic was a consequence of Queensland spending less on social infrastructure than any other state.

Government cronies, the so-called white shoe brigade, did well out of Sir Joh's desire for development, and even foreign construction conglomerates learned that the way to preferment lay through generous donations to slush funds that were sometimes only tangentially connected to the National Party. Heritage buildings in the way of either public or private development had a way of disappearing in midnight demolitions.

Sir Joh debauched any instrument of democracy that got in his way and became known for ever more outrageous refinements to Labor's gerrymander. In election years, Parliament would hardly sit and Sir Joh could pur sue critics, even parliamentary critics, to vindictive extremes with defamation writs.

Police were given extensive powers to spy on dissenters and to break up street marches, with the government turning a blind eye to police excesses that came to include the virtual franchising of illegal brothels. In the move that was ultimately to bring Sir Joh undone, South Australian police reformer Ray Whitrod was driven from office as police commissioner and replaced with the reputedly corrupt and very junior inspector Terry Lewis. The cabinet minutes covering the appointment have never been found.

Sir Joh was the last premier to dispense knighthoods, in one case giving one to an out-of-state businessman who donated $100,000 to a Kingaroy orphanage. More notably he arranged for one to be awarded to himself in January 1984 and got his police commissioner up on a second attempt in 1986.

Sir Joh married public servant Florence Gilmore in 1952 and helped orchestrate her becoming a National Party senator for Queensland in 1980. At the time, this was widely seen as yet more outrageous cronyism but Senator Flo Bjelke-Petersen went on to win wide respect in the role.

Although Sir Joh declined to join the parliamentary superannuation scheme, questions arose from early in his ministerial career about possible improper public inputs into his considerable private business affairs.

He bulldozed his way through scandals that included accepting shares from a big company lining up for government permits, profiteering on mining licences and engineering to open the Great Barrier Reef to oil exploration while neglecting to mention that companies associated with him held some of the more promising prospects.

In 1986, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal came dangerously close to a finding that a $400,000 defamation settlement for Sir Joh from new Channel Nine owner Alan Bond had elements of either extortion or bribery.

When Sir Joh bought a property near sleepy Duaringa, government departments rushed to install a school and upgrade roads, bridges and a racetrack.

Mining and construction magnate Sir Leslie Thiess installed hangars and other facilities on the property and later sued Channel Nine over inferences that these facilities constituted a bribe to Sir Joh. Thiess lost, and the defamation court in effect ruled that Sir Joh had been corrupt — the finding that was implicit in the Fitzgerald inquiry but never quite reached by the criminal courts.

Sir Joh interpreted his discharge from the hung jury trial as an acquittal and supporters have waged fitful campaigns for justice for him ever since.

After a brief stab at a career as figurehead for a minor merchant bank, he returned to the family property Bethany, which evolved into a minor attraction on tourist coach routes. In recent years he suffered the degenerative effects of Parkinson's disease and complications of his childhood polio.

He is survived by his wife and their four children. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who recently turned down Sir Joh's claim for $353 million in compensation for pain, hurt and suffering occasioned by the Fitzgerald inquiry, has said the former premier will receive a state funeral.

Born at Dannevirke, New Zealand, January 13, son of Danish pastor C.J. Bjelke-Petersen.

Family moves to Kingaroy.

Leaves school aged 13 to work on parents' farm. Becomes successful beef and peanut farmer at Kingaroy.

Enters Queensland Parliament as Country Party member for Nanango. As opposition member, strongly opposes socialism in a Labor-dominated Parliament.

Marries Florence (nee Gilmour).

Country Party-Liberal coalition gains power. Only instance in Australia of a conservative coalition with National Party as dominant partner.

Appointed minister for works and housing.

Given additional portfolios of Aboriginal affairs and police; is elected deputy leader of Country Party. After premier Jack Pizzey dies, is elected unopposed as leader. Becomes premier despite strong support for Liberal deputy premier Gordon Chalk.

Declares state of emergency to curb demonstrators during Springboks' rugby tour.

Defies convention by selecting his own candidate, Albert Field, to fill a casual Senate vacancy. This becomes a factor in the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Removes state death duties. Holds redistribution before election - two Liberal seats disappear, angering the Liberals.

The historic Belle Vue Hotel is demolished in the middle of the night, prompting Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Ian George, to ask: "What kind of government acts like a thief in the night?" Sir Joh commented: "I congratulate the demolishers on a job well done."

Allegations of political interference in the granting of rights to build shopping complexes to a company whose managing director is "rather coincidentally a regional chairman of the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation".

National Party gains numbers to govern alone.

Bjelke-Petersen is knighted.

Joh for Canberra campaign unsettles the federal coalition. Campaign falters in 1987.

Unrest in Queensland National Party - and claims of corruption during his administration - lead Sir Joh to undertake to retire on August 8, 1988. Party unrest continues. In November, after Sir Joh dismisses several ministers, the parliamentary party elects Mike Ahern. The crisis is resolved on December 1, 1987, when Sir Joh resigns.

Fitzgerald inquiry report tabled in Queensland Parliament.

Sir Joh is tried for perjury but the case ends with a hung jury. It later emerges the jury foreman is a member of the Young National Party.

Guests pay $1000 each to attend a dinner to raise $1 million to cover Sir Joh's legal costs.

He seeks compensation of $353 million from the Queensland Government for lost income.


All the way with PJK
921 Posts
Senator-elect apologises for attack on minister

Article from The Age
By Michelle Grattan
Political editor
April 27, 2005

Queensland Nationals senator-elect Barnaby Joyce has sent a written apology to Communications Minister Helen Coonan for calling her a member of the Sydney eastern suburbs elite, out of touch with rural Australia.

The letter went out late last week after Nationals' leader John Anderson rang the outspoken Mr Joyce, who doesn't arrive in the Senate until July, to criticise an interview he had done with The Age.

Mr Anderson told Mr Joyce his comments were not helpful. He said he should not attack individuals and suggested he apologise to Senator Coonan. Mr Anderson said Senator Coonan was listening to the Nationals and their concerns.

Mr Joyce agreed with the criticisms and promised restraint.

But he also pointed to attacks various Liberals had made on him, including parliamentary secretary Chris Pyne and backbenchers Wilson Tuckey and Tony Smith, while Senator George Brandis had attacked the Nationals. Mr Joyce also took exception to comments by the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry, and Conservation, Ian Macdonald, who had gloated about the low Nationals Senate vote in Queensland.

Mr Joyce told Mr Anderson the Liberals kept provoking the Nationals. When they finally had a shot back, the Liberals found this unfair.

In The Age interview, Mr Joyce said: "Helen is so typical of that Liberal elite from Sydney's eastern suburbs whose main view of the world is the harbour. Just completely out of touch with working rural Australia."

He recounted how a "very superior sounding woman" from Senator Coonan's office had told him Senator Coonan was to visit the Gold Coast and would he like to pop down and see her. He was nine hours away and said no.

"Coonan has the ministerial jet, she is on the public purse, and she wants my vote on Telstra... and yet here she is between sessions at the opera and her beloved French restaurants telling me to drop everything to rush to see her. The arrogance is breathtaking."

Mr Joyce said yesterday: "I apologised for bringing personalities into politics. I shouldn't have done it - and neither should anyone else."

He said Mr Anderson had been polite. "He didn't tell me I had to apologise to Senator Coonan - he said 'you might like to think about it'."

But Mr Joyce made it clear to Mr Anderson that he must continue to represent Queensland Nationals policy when asked. Based on this, he is reserving his position on whether he will vote for the sale of the rest of Telstra.


"He (John Anderson) didn't tell me I had to apologise to Senator Coonan - he said 'you might like to think about it'."

Poor Barnaby Joyce, brought into line by Mr Anderson and Ms Coonan even before he stepped foot in the senate! :hahano:

Champagne Socialist
12,777 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
hah, the Nationals won't know what hit them when and if the religo-nut Costello gets the top job, this is everything the Liberals don't want:,5744,15813270%5E601,00.html

Nats in push to protect farmers
Greg Roberts and Steve Lewis
July 04, 2005

A RESURGENT National Party has placed corporate giants Woolworths, Coles Myer and McDonald's on notice that it expects a better deal for Australian farmers, as part of a new wave of protectionism that threatens Coalition unity.

Victorian Peter McGauran, a surprise appointment yesterday as Agriculture Minister in a revamped Coalition front bench, immediately aligned himself with Tasmanian potato growers who have been attacking McDonald's for deciding to source some products from New Zealand.

Mr McGauran called on McDonald's to source "to the greatest extent possible" Australian produce, and will meet the fast-food chain's new chief executive Peter Bush to push his buy-Australian views.

The Nationals are also pushing for greater controls on the market dominance of Woolworths and Coles Myer and new measures to promote ethanol as the political landscape in Canberra changes.

With the addition of two new senators, the Nationals are threatening to hold up decisive votes on Telstra privatisation and industrial relations unless they get their way.

New Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce yesterday linked mandating a 10 per cent content of ethanol in petrol and imposing controls on the market dominance of the supermarket chains to the Telstra and IR issues.

Incoming deputy prime minister Mark Vaile said the Government may have to force oil companies to increase use of ethanol, while signalling he was also prepared to discuss the supermarket issue.

In what appeared a concerted attack, Mr McGauran warned of a "disturbing trend for the two dominant supermarkets to use cheap imports for their house brands rather than Australian products".

He said their market dominance gave them "powerful influence over the prices that producers receive".

"They need to trade fairly with farmers. Business self-interest only goes so far in the Australian community," the minister told The Australian.

Senator Joyce said the latest surge in petrol prices highlighted the need to mandate a 10 per cent ethanol content in fuel. "It's time we got going on an alternative fuel strategy and stopped just talking about it," he said.

He wanted federal controls to reduce the share of the supermarket trade cornered by Coles Myer and Woolworths from about 75 per cent to a maximum 50 per cent. "That level of market monopoly isn't allowed anywhere in the free world and it shouldn't be allowed here," Senator Joyce said.

Senator Joyce's aim of reducing the market dominance of the two supermarket giants would be achieved by expanding trade practices legislation to give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission divestiture powers, similar to those operating in the US.

Mr Vaile agreed it was time to renew the debate on ethanol content in fuel.

"We have to improve the proportion of ethanol in petrol from the current 0.1 per cent," he said.

"If the oil companies don't come on board, we may have to look at other measures, but I hope that won't be necessary."

Mr Vaile said he was also prepared to canvass controls on the supermarket chains.

Mr McGauran's appointment to cabinet was announced as part of a reshuffle by John Howard. He replaces Warren Truss in Agriculture, with Mr Truss taking over the Transport portfolio vacated by former Nationals leader John Anderson. NSW member John Cobb is promoted into the junior ministry, responsible for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

Mr McGauran's bush credentials have been criticised by the rural lobby in the past but National Farmers Federation president Peter Corish said he was looking forward to working with the Victorian MP. Mr Corish noted the minister would be on a "steep learning curve".

But Mr McGauran is keen to get on the front foot and last night was adamant he would not be a sop for senior Liberal ministers in cabinet.

"I don't see the Department of Agriculture as being a branch office of the Treasury or Trade portfolios," he said.

"Our mission is to always support Australian farmers ahead of anything else, and to the extent there is balance needed in the national interest, that can be debated around the cabinet table."

The new wave of protectionist sentiment came as senior Queensland Nationals expressed confidence the state branch would accept a package of services for the bush that would allow the branch to support the full sale of Telstra.

Mr Vaile said that as the Nationals' incoming leader, he had no difficulty with Senator Joyce taking stands that differed from Coalition government policy.

Meanwhile Queensland Nationals MP Bruce Scott is expected to take over as the party's state president from Terry Bolger, a hardline opponent of the Telstra sale, next month.

Champagne Socialist
12,777 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Toe the line, Howard warns senators
August 9, 2005 - 5:18PM

Prime Minister John Howard has warned dissident government backbenchers that their first loyalty is to the joint party room, not their state.

In what one government backbencher described as "gentle innuendo", Mr Howard told the six new coalition senators sworn in today to savour the moment - and to toe the line.

"Whatever affiliations you have, your first loyalty is to this party room," a party room spokesman quoted Mr Howard as telling the meeting.

But the spokesman added: "That's something that is normally said when we welcome new members and new senators."

New Senate sworn in

On the new, government-controlled Senate's first day, formality moved through good-humoured barbs to anger inside two hours.

The Greens won the prize for the first stunt, the Australian Democrats for the first split and Family First for the first bit of cheek.

The government claimed to have passed its first test of using its numbers decently; Labor said it had failed.

They were talking about different tests and it was Labor's definition that went to the first real use of the government's numbers.

That was over its - or, technically, Senate President Paul Calvert's - move to cut the number of non-government questions each day. That was when the anger and indignation started.

The day started with Governor-General Michael Jeffery swearing in the new senators.

As formalities go, this was about as low key as you could get. The reason was that it was not just the 14 real new senators who were sworn in, but also all the other returning senators who'd been re-elected at the last election.

It was done by states, six senators at a time, who mumbled the oath or affirmation in rough unison before signing two rolls. It was more Brown's cows than Westminster pomp.

15 minutes of fame

Barnaby Joyce, the new Queensland National who's already had his
15 minutes of fame, was scarcely noticed.

Then it was time to elect the president. The government nominated the incumbent, Senator Calvert.

Labor was silent. But the Greens nominated one of their own, Kerry Nettle. Senator Bob Brown said she would protect the Senate from becoming a rubber stamp for the government and the prime minister's office.

Senator Calvert won 67 votes to seven. Seven? Four Greens, their numbers now doubled, and three Australian Democrats. The much-reduced Dems had split already, with Senator Andrew Murray joining Labor in backing the government's man.

In congratulating Senator Calvert, Labor's Senate leader Chris Evans said the president had been impartial, but warned he'd have a tougher challenge this term.

The Democrats and Greens warned similarly, though moderately. It was as if they were saving themselves for later.

The Greens tried again when it came to deputy president and chairman of committees, this time nominating Christine Milne against Labor's incumbent John Hogg.

At least Senator Nettle had had a term in the chamber. Senator Milne was brand new, although after years in the Tasmanian parliament, she knows a bit about the business.

She got four votes, with the Democrats this time voting together, and against her.

Government Senate leader Robert Hill, wearing his best shark's smile, said the government, which could have elected one of its own, had passed its first test by allowing the position to go to the opposition.

Senator Evans didn't think it was much of a test. There'd be much sterner ones ahead, he warned.

The Democrats and Greens used their short speeches to complain that the government intended using their numbers to cut back on the scope and work of Senate committees, especially the estimates committees.

Democrats leader Lyn Allison said the government didn't think the committee system was working well because it was exposing government mistakes.

The next formality was advising on ministerial and party arrangements. Each party leader in turn got up and made a brief statement.

Light hearted

Then Steven Fielding of Family First got up.

"My party has unanimously elected me as party leader," the lone member of his party gravely announced, tongue-in-cheek.

By now question time should have started.

Instead, the argument got serious because the government intends taking one question a day away from Labor and the minor parties.

On this Labor, the Democrats and the Greens were as one, especially as they hadn't been consulted.

The government generally and Senator Calvert in particular copped about equal share of the blame.
Senator Evans said this was the first real test and the government, in its arrogance, had failed it by breaking the longstanding convention that the non-government side got the bulk of questions.

Using its numbers to reduce its accountability was a straight grab for power, Senator Evans said.
Turning on Senator Calvert, he charged: "You are complicit".

Senator Hill said the new system was fair. Assuming an average 13 questions a day, the opposition would get six, the coalition five and the minor parties two.

"You are entitled to a fair go, but not more than a fair go," he said.

The problem, the Democrats felt, was the nature of the government questions - so-called Dorothy Dixers in which ministers get to say exactly what they want to say.

Senator Allison thought this was useless and a better solution might be to abolish all questions from the government's side.

There'll be much longer, tougher debates than this one as the new Senate beds down and the government works out just how ruthlessly it can use its numbers; or if the numbers are always, in fact, there.

In the meantime, the argument over question time got in the way of question time on the first day of the brave new world.



go Barney, go Barney! :rock:
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