In a pretty surprising move, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has put distance between himself and the Coalition’s heavily-criticised decision to amend the wording of the Racial Discrimination Act. 

He admitted that while he has some sympathies for the push to remove certain protections from Section 18C of the Act, he believes there are far, far more important tasks for the government to handle. 

Joyce told The Sydney Morning Herald “it is definitely not the issue people are talking about in the beer garden on Friday night or at the counters of banks, or to be quite frank, in the big office blocks when they finish work on Friday night.”

The Nationals leader also reckoned the people who are seriously pissed that the Act currently bars them from offending, insulting, or humiliating someone based on their race or ethnicity are “absolutely blessed.”

It’s not a stretch to interchange that phrasing with the word “privileged,” but here’s Joyce’s literal take:

“I’ll be frank, [this issue] lives in the extremities of the bell curve. 

“Where do you meet those people? At party meetings, they are absolutely blessed people and they are terribly politically involved and they have an intense interest in some of the minutiae of debate. 

“They come into your office to rant and rave about it, all four of them.”


As for what he reckons the government should be focusing on? Utility prices, building dams and sealing roads. If that’s not the most bread-and-butter National Party agenda you can think of, we don’t know what is. 

Between this and the allegations that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is pulling strings behind the scenes to push for marriage equality, it must be an intensely weird time to be Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Photo: Stephan Postles / Getty.