Before we begin here I really do need to stress that this has all happened within the space of one day. That day being today, which isn’t even close to being over yet. Freshly installed Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has wasted approximately zero time shifting the National Party’s agenda back to full-on sicko mode, running a gauntlet of bizarre political happenings that most politicians will struggle to encounter in an entire career.

The Deputy PM’s day began by casually managing to almost wiggle himself out of the job he just got back, nearly blowing up the Coalition – and the Government, by extension – in the process.

The story goes that the Nationals are currently waging a fairly incensed campaign against the Liberal Party’s Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and are dogged in their attempts to introduce amendments to the legislation that are flat-out at odds with their Liberal brethren.

Nationals whip Damian Drum brought the party’s amendment into the House of Representatives earlier this morning, putting the party’s official position completely in opposition of the Liberal Party’s. But as a cabinet minister, Joyce is bound to vote with the Coalition on all Parliamentary matters. So the choice he faced there was to either a) vote against his own National Party, or b) resign his seat as Deputy Prime Minister.

Peter Dutton moved to have the motion ruled out of order, which in effect places a gag on his own Coalition compatriots, and the matter fizzled to an end shortly thereafter. But not before National Party reps circulated talking points in conjunction with their motion, outlying their objections to the plan. Chief among them? “The science no longer supports [South Australia] needing fresh water.” Which seems like the kind of thing you might want to run by literally anyone in South Australia first.

Joyce’s incredibly stupid day managed to get even dumber from there. Despite mingling in and around Parliament all day, come Question Time a suddenly absent Joyce sparked speculation that he had been identified as a COVID close contact after attending a function with NSW state MP Adam Marshall, who tested positive for COVID earlier today.

That speculation was confirmed by Peter Dutton as Question Time began, which made things all the more incredibly fucking weird when Joyce casually strolled back into the chamber no more than six minutes later like nothing had happened. Nearly half an hour later Joyce finally addressed the elephant in the room by claiming that, after seeking health advice, he was not classified as a close contact and was thus technically free to resume Parliamentary duties in-person.

And if all that weren’t ridiculous enough, it was then revealed that Joyce will replace Michael McCormack on the Federal Government’s Cabinet Taskforce on the Status of Women. Which is, for lack of a better term, the group that’s been set up to look into the experience of women in Parliament following a string of scandals from shit men.

That’s Barnaby Joyce, on that panel.

Old Bonk Ban himself.

Investigating what it’s been like for women in Parliament.

So to recap:

  • Nearly blew up the Government and forced himself out of his own (newly won) job.
  • Was briefly a COVID close contact but then just magically wasn’t for some reason.
  • Is now responsible for setting workplace standards for the treatment of women.

He’s back, folks. The boy is back in town.

Image: Getty Images / Sam Mooy