What is the point of Barnaby Joyce? | RenewEconomy

What is the point of Barnaby Joyce?

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Barnaby Joyce is the local MP, deputy leader of his party, Cabinet member and the minister of Agriculture. But he says he cannot stop the potential destruction of Australia’s best farming region, in his own electorate.

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Barnaby Joyce has given us some entertaining and some confusing lines in his career as a politician, particularly in areas surrounding climate change and clean energy. He rails against the “lemming” like rush to renewables, he doubts the science of climate change, he thinks frosts are proof that global warming is not occurring, and concurs with Andrew Bolt that the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology must be part of some global conspiracy.

Still, in 2013, the local electors in the seat of New England voted him in as their MP in the hope that at least he’d get a few things right – like using his influence in a Coalition government to act in the best interests of one of the Australia’s richest farming regions.

But apparently he can’t. Despite being the local member, the deputy leader of one of the two parties that form the Coalition government, a member of Cabinet and the Minister for Agriculture, Joyce says he is powerless to stop the potential destruction of what he describes as Australia best farming land in the Liverpool Plains by a new coal mine –  the $1.2 billion Shenhua project, that is of such a size it would swallow even the city of Sydney.

(via @Rottoturbine)
(via @Rottoturbine)

Joyce has protested that the decision does not make sense and suggests the world “has gone mad”. But just three days earlier, Joyce had stood on Victorian farmland with his boss, prime minister Tony Abbott, with a plan to boost agriculture once all the coal had been dug up.

“One day the coal will have been dug up, the gas will have been extracted, but we will always need food and our land forever,” Abbott told reporters in Victoria on Saturday.

A few days later – and notwithstanding his ramblings on climate and clean energy – it dawned on Joyce how ridiculous those comments were. If you dig up all the coal, or more specifically those in great farming land like the Liverpool Plains, then there is no land left to produce much of anything.

To highlight the confusion and chaos, and the say-anything-on-the-spur-of-the-moment mentality of this government, Abbott says Joyce is just being a concerned local member. Joyce says that’s crap, he’s speaking because he is minister of agriculture. albeit a powerless one. Evidently, however, this is not a matter of principal and he won’t resign.

Watching this government talking its way through climate and clean energy policy – its rants against wind farms, its support of coal, its trashing of the science and climate policies – is a little like watching a game of Bonk – with each response contradicting the previous one.

joyce rinehart

It should be no surprise. The whole conservative push against is orchestrated by a potent mix of ideology and vested interests – deny the science of climate change, accept it’s happening but not because of human actions; and then if humans are causing it, then it’s probably a good thing, particularly for plants.

One of the principal conductors-in-chief, the Institute of Public Affairs, has just given out a hand-book to Coalition politicians on how to argue the case for coal in a package entitled “the life saving potential of coal”.

“The potential of coal as one of Australia’s most important exports and as the backbone of Australia’s domestic electricity generation is being put at risk by domestic and international activists,” it says. Maybe it should add Joyce to the list of domestic activists.

joyce llamaOf course, it won’t, because unless he resigns, it could be argued that he is just putting on a show. As Tony Windsor, the former independent MP suggested this week, Joyce is full of hot air. Even Jacqui Lambie has taunted Joyce on his inability to get an exemption in his own electorate.

It begs the question.. What is the point of Barnaby Joyce? The rest of Australia has been wondering about this for years, but that is the very question the New England electorate must be asking itself right now. It probably explains their joyous response to the prospect that Tony Windsor – a man who actually sounds like he believes in something – may consider a return to politics and run against Joyce.

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  1. Peter Campbell 5 years ago

    Oh, dear. None of those illustrations were pleasant!

  2. Petra Liverani 5 years ago

    There is no point to any politician who doesn’t recognise the need to get on board with the massive transition that needs to happen, is happening and will happen regardless of government policy, albeit more slowly. Business-as-usual politicians are irrelevant hindrances. Unfortunately, there’s too many of them.

  3. Kevin O'Dea 5 years ago

    The Greenhouse Mafia corporate lobbyists must be very pleased with their progress to date. The Abbott Government dances to the music of Big Coal/Aluminium, and poor old Barnaby has to comply. The National Party will be slaughtered at the federal election if their representatives cannot stand up for the interests of farmers. I am very happy for Tony Windsor and likeminded independents to join the fray.

  4. Colin Edwards 5 years ago

    Abbott would have to be Australia’s worst prime minister. Hopefully the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Greg Hunt will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

    • Concerned 5 years ago

      Are you totally fact free?

  5. Concerned 5 years ago

    How dishonest,a map regarding Adani?
    And mine regarding Liverpool Plains is not on arable land.

  6. michael 5 years ago

    they should make the farmers prove scientifically that their extraction has zero impact on the below ground water before being allowed to sink bores…

    • mick 5 years ago

      how would you do that mate?

      • michael 5 years ago

        Simple, same tests the mines have to pass. They’re both just different industries.

        • mick 5 years ago

          im not sure what you mean a farm bore impact is usually metered to measure your use of water which is replaced by percolation after rainfall while a mine would be about contamination through spills during drilling and leakage of chems used for smelting also methane into waterways but as far as I know (not much) that’s more fracking right?

          • michael 5 years ago

            probably best you comment on other topics if you think smelting/methane/spills are the water issues the opponents are talking about here

          • mick 5 years ago

            ive seen first hand what mining does to agriculture thanks mate you seem to have some confusion about a water bore used for livestock and irrigation does

          • michael 5 years ago

            From your own comment, how does a coal mine have anything to do with smelting or spill during drilling? all of the protest has been about impact to groundwater levels, which is equally impacted by agricultural bores. Are you suggesting that 100-150 years of farming has had no negative environmental impact and no impact on the great artesian basin?

          • mick 5 years ago

            European farming practices have had a massive impact in Australia no question,water salinity is a problem we will continue to deal with for years as is fertiliser/chem run off and spray drift hard hoofed animals compacting ground etc.coal mine dust causes health problems that incapacitate and kill people unfortunate to live anywhere near them I was thinking about shot drilling and iron ore regards smelting/spills and imho several hundred litres of hydraulic oil going down a fragile waterway aint great.id like to think coal mining will become extinct within my life time if not sooner as I believe that in developed countries it is already redundant.most of the bore water ive come across in the desert is too salty to use ie:6000/parts/million and more,farming will be around long after we are gone but wel get better at it or we wont survive.

          • Ron Horgan 5 years ago

            Most countries have over exploited their artesian basins including USA China and India.
            Large populations now depend on a rapidly diminishing water supply for food. All the more reason to properly manage what we have

    • Annette Schneider 5 years ago

      Do you want to eat?

      • michael 5 years ago

        do farmers want steel tractors?

        • nakedChimp 5 years ago

          I think farmers could do with carbon fiber tractors.

          • michael 5 years ago

            you do know they burn FF to make carbon fiber?

          • nakedChimp 5 years ago

            It’s called carbon fiber, not carbon dioxide fiber.

          • michael 5 years ago

            they burn gas to get to the 2,000 deg C temperatures required in the furnaces to manufacture the carbon fiber… holistic carbon footprints aren’t your strong suit?

          • nakedChimp 5 years ago

            I didn’t know that burning gas is the only way to get something to heat up to 2,000 deg C..?

            Also according to this here (*) the gas doesn’t burn the pre-carbon-fiber-filaments, but is just there to ‘suck out’ the non-carbon atoms, from what I understand?
            *) http://zoltek.com/carbonfiber/how-is-it-made/

          • michael 5 years ago

            who said the gas burnt the fibers? I mentioned it was required for manufacturing, ” and you then described how it helps, thanks for agreeing.

            Sure there’s other ways to reach those temperatures, but currently that’s how it’s done, hence why it’s relevant to current carbon fiber embedded GHG

          • nakedChimp 5 years ago

            you started this whole argument by telling people that farmers and RE installations need steel that is made with coal/gas..
            And now you agree that it’s perfectly possible to substitute steel with carbon fiber and that this can be produced with RE instead of FF.
            Do I have this right or am I missing something here?

          • michael 5 years ago

            i started it by suggesting the “zero possible impact” condition that people try to put on mines would stop any farming happening either. Someones implied that this coal mine would prevent people from eating, I suggested a current requirement of the world for met coal, then you put forward the potential for carbon fiber tractors. So yeah, maybe you missed something?

            if you want to invent carbon fiber tractors and a manufacturing process to achieve this with zero carbon input (not just buying credits or planting trees to offset), go right ahead. Currently that is not available, therefore is pure speculation.

          • nakedChimp 5 years ago

            I did understand it so, that the world doesn’t necessarily need yet another coal mine opening and farming is better for the people living there instead of a coal mine (not saying nature)..

            And as we hear day and day again RE (esp wind and solar) are cost competitive with FF, so if they really need more energy it should be better sourced via RE, no?

            As for carbon fiber tractors.. they’re already making the hoods for heavy machinery from reinforced plastics (no idea about the fibers or matrix employed) and upper class cars are being made with carbon/kevlar in some polymer matrix and BMW is using it for mid class, so it’s not far fetched to see this trickling down to heavy/farming machinery. Maybe not next year or next decade, but some day..

          • michael 5 years ago

            you’ve nailed it (partly, after ignoring the obvious discrepancy between your question about missing something, my answer, and then claiming to understand… but anyway). It aint available now apart from in high end products, so unless you stop using steel in RE installations, tractors, mass produced cars, trains, trams, bridges, buildings etc. met coal is required as an input, hence coal mining needs to keep happening, for a year, for a decade or for some time period. So the bleating about the end of the world due to a small mine (in comparison to the disturbance to nature of total farming land) is quite entertaining. As long as these farmers are consistent with their protestations… Oh yeah, there was a quote from one of the local farmers saying that their request to clear this very piece of land had previously been knocked back… hypocrisy much?

          • Miles Harding 5 years ago

            Hydrogen powered carbon fibre tractors, at that!

  7. Ian 5 years ago

    Indeed, and
    What is the point of Greg Hunt?
    What is the point of 18 largely pointless conditions?

    • michael 5 years ago

      would be much better to have coal mined in environmentally strict provinces such as Indonesia/africa/india/china, where they have in place 18 meaningful conditions on their mines. For the net good of the world, it would be better for Australia to do the mining.

      • Ian 5 years ago

        Fair point about mining in unregulated countries, however the main problem is the idea of digging up some of the best agricultural land in the world, to be utterly destroyed forever, for a (relatively) very short term gain.

        All this for little financial gain in a collapsing business case for the primary problem facing the planet- coal fired electricity.

        The more costly impediments there are to coal mining the better, to divert investment to cleaner sources of energy.

        • michael 5 years ago

          isn’t this primarily a met coal project?

          • Ron Horgan 5 years ago

            The coal is said to be 85%semisoft coking coal(SSCC) and 15% thermal coal. SSCC is the lowest grade of metallurgical coal and often regarded as equivalent to thermal coal.
            While it can be used in steel making it is not hard coking coal which is indeed essential.
            The diversionary argument about steel is just that.

        • michael 5 years ago

          at any rate, i thought this project was located up on some sort of ridge and not in the prime farming lands (blacksoil), or is that not correct?

  8. mick 5 years ago

    don’t expect too much of Barnaby after similar noise he choked and voted in the gst which is probably about to go up

  9. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    Barnaby’s rantings about pink batts and renewables sound like absolute clangers now. Look what he’s earned for himself. He’s gonna get a black hole in his back yard to match the black hole in his ideology.

    • Miles Harding 5 years ago

      This is part of the parcel in selling out. Barnaby is left with irreconcilable inconsistencies.

      Possibly, this is useful as an indicator of politicians having sold their souls to the highest bidder.

  10. Annette Schneider 5 years ago

    As Cliff Wallace said on Q & A, “Barnaby Joyce, Why’d you sell us out?”

  11. Neil Frost 5 years ago

    In the end does it really matter. The world is changing and there will be no need for the coal we have. Australia is heading in the wrong direction at the moment, that is certain.
    When there is no need for coal we will need to play catch up and fast. Until then the government will keep looking after its mates and the people that make “DONATIONS” my answer is to put up pv and sit back. Read what is going on and make an educated vote at the next election. Don’t listen to to much bias media, make your own mind up.

    • michael 5 years ago

      which year in the future do you think Met Coal will cease to be used? once we stop using steel in wind turbines, solar panel mountings, structural steel for buildings etc. pretty sure this mine life will be comfortably consumed if it goes ahead eventually.

  12. Miles Harding 5 years ago

    I have thought the point of Barnaby was to provide comic relief, although the main show is looking to be more of a black comedy these days.

    The IPA appears to publish coaching notes on a number of subjects. Take the gay marriage ‘debate’; The arguments are from the same stock of utter rubbish that is used in their coal and climate campaign, but the subject is more accessible so they sound totally ridiculous to one and all.

  13. Ron Horgan 5 years ago

    The gentle art of trolling is to divert away from the topic with comments of marginal relevance and to fill the space with negative rubbish.
    Joyce is indeed in a difficult position. The Liverpool plains if properly managed will produce pure unadulterated food for hundreds of years.
    There is an big premium developing world market for pure food, as so much good land has been contaminated or destroyed.
    In China organic food is being grown in small plots by city dwellers desperate get pure food.
    The value of the Liverpool Plains produce would dwarf the mining return over the long term. Sell food not coal and prosper.

    • michael 5 years ago

      is this mine on the plains? from the looks of the maps, the mine sites are on outcrops (see topographical lines). So not sure how farming is actually going to be harmed by this.

      • Ron Horgan 5 years ago

        Michael, There are two issues. the threat to farming and the global warming problem.
        The main threat to farming is contamination of the water table which would lead to contamination of the irrigation farmland.
        This has been carefully considered and the evidence presented is that the irrigation aquifers will not be connected to the mine excavation nor contaminated by it.However I could not find a section of the proposed pit showing how deep it would be, nor the detail of the geology that insulates the irrigation aquifer.
        Global warming is primarily a question of substituting fossil carbon by renewable energy and this should be strongly developed.
        For steel making Korea is even exploring using nuclear power to make electrolytic hydrogen and then using hydrogen for the steel reduction.
        This seems to be quite fantastic but shows how seriously one of the worlds biggest steel makers is taking the situation.

        • Ron Horgan 5 years ago

          Keep in mind that feasibility studies are often simply written to support the financial interests of the developers.
          There was a case in the Philippines where a nuclear power plant was built on an unstable fault line. The feasibility study ensured that the plant was built and the profit made. It has never been commissioned as the danger had by then been recognized.
          Thus an aid programme for a country in need of aid was a complete waste of money ,except of course for the developers.

  14. Lucy Gallagher 5 years ago

    People who are criticizing Joyce on this issue clearly don’t know Joyce. He is undoubtably the best thing to happen to Australian agriculture in many years and he is obviously passionate about it. If Windsor ran against him in the next election I am very confident, as a voter in the New England, that Windsor would be wiped out. The people of New England have not forgotten his treacherous past and are not prepared to give him another chance… they would, however, appreciate the opportunity to vote against him in order to reflect the bitterness still felt in their hearts. The wheels began to turn for Shenhua when Windsor’s State counterpart, Peter Draper was in office… why didn’t Windsor nip it in the bud then? He was probably busy selling his own farm to a mining company for a whole lot more than his neighbours received for their properties. Windsor is simply a bitter ex-pollie with zero backbone and zero ability to provide useful influence in a fight to stop this ludicrous environmental sacrilege.

    • Ian 5 years ago

      I hope Windsor does stand again, as he has been a very effective representative if farmers. A carbon price which incorporated the carbon farming initiative ultimately supports farmers by encouraging a move to renewable energy sources… and mitigating climate extremes.
      The carbon price worked well, and has been an inspirational model internationally.
      It is a shame that the vandals of the media and political spheres had a louder voice.

      Barnaby is apparently powerless in a most terrifyingly destructive government.

  15. Alan S 5 years ago

    Re Barnaby’s ‘…plan to boost agriculture once all the coal had been dug up’: You’ll have a big black hole in the ground that’s ideal for growing mushrooms.

    Wonder who’ll pay for the rehab after the coal’s gone?

  16. shindig 5 years ago

    I love the choice of photos here.

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