PM Malcolm Turnbull joins Barnaby Joyce in a Tamworth pub to celebrate his win in the New England by-election. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
PM Malcolm Turnbull joins Barnaby Joyce in a Tamworth pub to celebrate his win in the New England by-election. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

BARNABY: ‘Why the hell would you do that?’

BARNABY Joyce has revealed he shoots down ideas from Malcolm Turnbull that "wouldn't fly" in regional Australia and says if his southern colleagues want to understand Queensland they should try "humping bananas for a weekend".

In an exclusive end-of-year interview with The Courier-Mail, the Deputy Prime Minister launches a spirited defence of north Queensland MP George Christensen and says too many

Sydney and Melbourne pollies don't know what makes Queenslanders tick.

"George is a mate (and) a true constituent of North Queensland," he said.

"If you want to understand North Queensland, go and hump bananas for a weekend, go to the Cowboys game and just sit and listen to what they are saying.

"You'll probably find those views that George has are pretty close to the person humping bananas next to you or working in the abattoir beside you."

Mr Joyce also declared that the LNP needed to change at state and federal elections, because "the 'L' is too big and the 'N' is too small."

And he hinted that he was often the contrarian at a Cabinet table dominated by city slickers.

Asked what he brought to the table that was different, Mr Joyce said: "In every Cabinet meeting, talking to the PM, as I am with you, is how I am with him.

"And they'll say something and I'll say, 'it's not going to work.'

"It can be blunt and to the point, where you can say, 'mate, that just won't fly. That's not going to work for me - my base. That's not going to work in regional areas.'

"And you can turn around and say, 'what if I did this in Wentworth? (and he'll say) it would go badly.' "

But Mr Joyce said his relationship with Mr Turnbull was solid and they worked well together because of trust.

Coming off the back of the most successful by-election in history, a tired but passionate Mr Joyce was hesitant to speak about the breakdown of his marriage, but said politicians should try to get home more often.

"The first two months of this year I had two, what I call purple days, where you wake up in your bed and the go to sleep in your bed,'' Mr Joyce said.

"In the first year in my political life I spent 22 days in my own bed,'' he said, explaining the heavy workload was the price for political effectiveness.

During the New England by-election, his political enemies tried to smear his reputation, trying to leverage the breakdown of his marriage.

Asked how he was feeling, Mr Joyce was typically farmer-like: "I'm all right. Fine."

"You can tear (politicians) to pieces on policies but she's a sad old world when people decide the way they'll deal with you is something that is personal and private. Why the hell would you do that?"

The tactic backfired. Mr Joyce, who visited almost every town in his electorate, romped it home, the result shocking a delighted Mr Turnbull.

"What I was able to show, and the Prime Minister, the amazed look on his face, when the first poll came in, (he said) 'what's that? "

"That's Loomberah. He goes, 'that's 99 per cent of the primary.' I said, 'that's what happens when you work hard'. He was astounded (by the total result)."

Mr Joyce revealed that he and Mr Turnbull had spoken about George Christensen, the Dawson MP who has threatened to cross the floor and quit the LNP.

But Mr Joyce is having none of the criticism and urged those who are angry with the renegade to understand North Queensland.

"George Christensen is just bubbling with a passion. He is very North Queensland and a lot of people just don't get that.

"I get it. I've been working with George for about 20 years. Right back to the National Party days. I remember going to one meeting for the state management committee meeting when they were going to kick him out of the National Party. I said, 'he's just a person with very strong views and they will temper over time.' Well, I got that wrong,'' he laughed.

"That's typical North Queensland. Just look at them all - Bob Katter, George Christensen and Warren Entsch.

"I mean, if you want to fail in North Queensland, just be a doughnut, white-bread candidate. They will get rid of you."

News Corp Australia


Drought-hit farmers to receive ‘substantial’ rain

Drought-hit farmers to receive ‘substantial’ rain

Drought-ravaged towns to receive long-awaited drink this weekend.

Split decision as Yamba gets answer on intersection upgrade

premium_icon Split decision as Yamba gets answer on intersection upgrade

Council gives Yamba a decision on Yamba Rd and Treelands Dr

Coalition has lost focus on governing says Page challenger

premium_icon Coalition has lost focus on governing says Page challenger

Labor waits in wings as Turnbull clings to power

Local Partners