News National Barnaby Joyce eyes Deputy Prime Ministership

Barnaby Joyce eyes Deputy Prime Ministership

Barnaby JOyce housing affordability
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has come under fire for his head-to-the-bush comments. Photo: AAP
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When you think of the National Party, is it their leader, the largely-anonymous Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, or the wildly colourful Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce you think of first?

Don’t answer that – Mr Truss could never hope to compete with the brand recognition of someone who once threatened to kill Johnny Depp’s dogs.

• Barnaby Joyce confirms he wants to be deputy PM
• ‘Johnny Depp’s dogs should bugger off’: Barnaby Joyce
• Joyce unfazed by Johnny Depp threat

The Nationals’ highest-profile politician has officially put himself forward as a contender for the party’s most senior position, provided Truss decides to retire in the coming months, as expected.

“I’ve supported Warren publicly and privately and if he steps down I will throw my hat in the ring,” Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media.

Mr Joyce might be the favourite to become Australia’s next Deputy Prime Minister – which in a Coalition government always goes to the Nationals Leader – but a significant chunk of his party are very much against the idea, due to his propensity for shooting from the hip. In fact they’re so against the idea, they’ve been dubbed the “Anyone But Barnaby” group.

Ms Bishop warned not to jump the gun on talking about Mr Truss' successor.
Ms Bishop warned not to jump the gun on talking about Mr Truss’ successor. Photo: AAP

They see him starting a debate over the Nationals leadership as just another example of his occasionally poor political judgement.

Over on the Liberal side of the Coalition, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop rebuked Mr Joyce for talking out of turn.

“Warren is a very dear friend and a good colleague so I think out of respect for Warren, we should allow him to make a decision as to his future before we start talking about his successor,” Ms Bishop told ABC Radio.

Joyce’s potential rival for the seat of New England at the next election, former independent MP Tony Windsor, has slammed Joyce as a “fool”, while Acting Opposition Leader, Penny Wong, noted he would be “entertaining but erratic”.

In the context of Mr Joyce’s career as a political maverick, freely discussing his political ambitions is true to form for a man who promotes his lack of a “filter” as one of his strengths.

Here are some of Mr Joyce’s most colourful moments:

Johnny Depp’s dogs

Mr Joyce became a global sensation following his threat to euthanise Depp’s dogs Pistol and Boo after the Hollywood megastar illegally flew them into Australia on a private jet.

Depp sent the dogs back out of the country, but when he later sniped at Mr Joyce with the comment that he was a “sweaty, big-gutted man”, our Agriculture Minister didn’t miss a beat.

He responded with an interview on the steps of Parliament House in his jogging clothes after a long, sweaty morning run. Mr Joyce would later win an award for his stand on the issue.

Johnny Depp's wife Amber Heard faced court for illegally importing their two dogs into Australia on a private jet.
Johnny Depp’s wife Amber Heard faced court for illegally importing their two dogs into Australia on a private jet. Photo: Getty

Opposing “decadent” gay marriage

One of the issues Mr Joyce has been most consistently vocal on is his opposition to same-sex marriage.

When the issue was debated last year, Mr Joyce warned that marriage equality might impact on trade with Asia because our northern neighbours would consider it “decadent”.

He opposed an earlier Greens motion in 2011 to introduce same-sex marriage on the basis that he wanted to protect the right of his daughter to marry a husband, which would not have been threatened by the proposal.

Trouble with numbers

In 2010, freshly promoted to the role of Shadow Finance Minister, Mr Joyce fluffed a critical speech to the National Press Club, confusing millions with billions.

He suggested Australia would have to “hock our eyeballs” to overseas investors and that we were close to defaulting on our debts, a comment widely ridiculed by the nation’s economists.

Crossing the floor

Mr Joyce doesn’t just say what he likes, he also has a proud track record of doing what he likes, with his independent spirit evident right from when he first entered federal politics as a senator representing Queensland in 2004.

In 2005 he became the first government senator in 19 years to cross the floor, voting against Howard government legislation to water down regulation of big mergers.

He followed that up the same year by opposing the controversial Voluntary Student Unionism changes, on the basis that they would disadvantage regional universities.

He would go on to cross the floor a further 26 times.

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