Barnaby Joyce

The Honourable
Barnaby Joyce
17th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Assumed office
18 February 2016
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded by Warren Truss
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Assumed office
18 September 2013
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded by Joel Fitzgibbon
Leader of the National Party
Assumed office
11 February 2016
Deputy Fiona Nash
Preceded by Warren Truss
Deputy Leader of the National Party
In office
13 September 2013  11 February 2016
Leader Warren Truss
Preceded by Nigel Scullion
Succeeded by Fiona Nash
Leader of the National Party in the Senate
In office
18 September 2008  8 August 2013
Deputy Nigel Scullion
Preceded by Nigel Scullion
Succeeded by Nigel Scullion
Senator for Queensland
In office
1 July 2005  8 August 2013
Preceded by Len Harris
Succeeded by Barry O'Sullivan
Member of the Australian Parliament
for New England
Assumed office
7 September 2013
Preceded by Tony Windsor
Personal details
Born Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce
(1967-04-17) 17 April 1967
Tamworth, New South Wales
Political party National Party (Federal)
Liberal National Party (State, 2010-13)
Spouse(s) Natalie Joyce
Alma mater University of New England (BFinAdmin)
Profession Accountant, politician
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Military service
Service/branch Australian Army Reserve
Years of service 1994–99
Unit Royal Queensland Regiment

Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce (born 17 April 1967) is an Australian politician who has served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia since 18 February 2016,[2] as the Leader of the National Party of Australia since 11 February 2016, and as the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources since 21 September 2015. He was sworn in as Minister for Agriculture in the Abbott Government on 18 September 2013. Water Resources was added to his portfolio on 21 September 2015 in the Turnbull Government.[3]

Prior to entering Parliament Joyce worked as an accountant. At the 2004 Federal Election Joyce was elected as a Senator and represented the state of Queensland from July 2005 until August 2013 as a member of The Nationals. He became leader of The Nationals in the Senate on 17 September 2008, succeeding Nigel Scullion.[4] As a senator, Joyce crossed the floor nineteen times during the term of the Howard Government.[5]

In April 2013 Joyce was pre-selected by the National Party to contest the House of Representatives seat of New England in New South Wales for the 2013 federal election. He resigned from the Senate on 8 August 2013[6] to contest the election and won New England for the Nationals with a margin of 21.1 percent.

Joyce is the only person in the history of the Australian Parliament to have represented one state in the Senate and an electorate in a different state in the House of Representatives.

Early life

Joyce was born in Tamworth, New South Wales, and raised in Woolbrook,[7][8] as one of six children from a sheep and cattle farming family.[9] His father, James Joyce, was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia to study veterinary science at the University of Sydney, where he met Joyce's mother, Marie.

Joyce attended St Ignatius' College, Riverview, in Sydney and the University of New England in Armidale, where he resided at St Albert's College and graduated with a Bachelor of Financial Administration degree in 1989.[9] He served in the Australian Army Reserve from 1994 to 1999. At university Joyce met his wife, Natalie, and they married in 1993. After graduating, Joyce moved around northern New South Wales and Queensland, and at one point worked as a bouncer and later as a farm worker.[9] He worked in the accounting profession from 1991 to 2005 until he became a senator. He is a fellow of CPA Australia. He and his wife have four daughters and live just outside of Tamworth, New South Wales.[9]


Senate (2004–2013)

Barnaby Joyce's old office in St George

Joyce was elected to the Senate in the 2004 election representing the National Party; his term commenced on 1 July 2005 and ran until 30 June 2011. He was re-elected at the 2010 election as a member of the Liberal National Party, formed from a merger of the Queensland divisions of the two non-Labor parties.

Joyce in 2007

Joyce regained the seat that the Nationals lost to the One Nation Party in 1998, defeating the One Nation Senator Len Harris. The Liberals won three seats in Queensland. Together with Joyce's election as a National Party Senator, it was the first time since the enlargement of the Senate in 1984 that a party or coalition had won four of the six available Senate seats from a single state.

Joyce won 6.5 percent of the vote on first preferences (see Australian electoral system), well short of the 14.3 percent required for election, but made up for lost ground by the flow of second preferences from eliminated candidates of the Family First and One Nation parties, as well as from the independent candidate, Pauline Hanson. The count attracted considerable media attention because Joyce's election contributed to the ruling Coalition government having control of the Senate for the first time since 1981, a result that few political commentators had expected. One Nation, the Liberal Party and the Democrats had sitting Senators.

Joyce said before taking his seat in July 2005 that he would not be a cipher and that the government should not take his support for granted. Because the Liberals campaigned against Joyce, he never felt bound to the Liberal Party. In particular, he initially expressed misgivings about the government's proposed sale of Telstra, the partially state-owned telecommunications company, and claimed that he would vote against the sale unless he and the rest of the party were satisfied that its service in rural areas was adequate and that privatisation would not adversely affect it.

Joyce's maiden speech to the Senate on 16 August 2005 was widely reported in the Queensland media. He expressed his desire to see the power of Australia's retailing duopoly, Coles Myer and Woolworths Limited, reduced so as to protect small business and consumer rights. He also espoused the virtues of free enterprise, particularly at the small business and family-owned business level. As well, having earlier told a Right to Life conference in July that his greatest goal in public life was to ban "the unfortunate carnage" of abortion, he used his first speech to identify abortion as the "slavery debate of our time".

On 17 August 2005 the government announced a package of A$30 billion to improve telecommunications services in regional and rural areas. On the basis of this, the National Party, in consultation with Joyce, agreed to support the sale of Telstra. This led the Labor Party and Stephen Conroy in particular to label Joyce "Backdown Barney" and "Barnaby Rubble" in an acrimonious parliamentary debate. However the Labor Party never reversed the sale of Telstra when they came to government. Joyce voted with the Government in the Senate on 14 September 2005, to sell the Government's remaining share of Telstra. As the Telstra Sale Legislation had been pursued by the lower house in prior parliamentary sessions with no assistance package for regional Australia it is Joyce who is credited for negotiating and holding out till the multi billion dollar assistance package was delivered so as to attain his vote in the Senate.[10][11]

Joyce crossed the floor to vote with the Labor and minor parties on 11 October 2005 on two motions concerning the Trade Practices Act 1974. Although both motions were lost 32–32, it was the first time since 1986 that a Government Senator has crossed the floor.

Joyce also said that he would not support the Government's "Voluntary Student Unionism" Bill banning the levying of compulsory service or amenity fees by universities without amendment because he believed it would unfairly disadvantage regional universities . However, Joyce was unsuccessful in his attempt to amend the bill, and subsequently crossed the floor on 9 December 2005 to oppose it. This was ultimately futile as the Government had secured the vote of Family First Senator Steve Fielding.

One of Joyce's major successes was the passage of the Birdsville Amendment, outlawing predatory pricing of big retailers against small business and the capping of share ownership on the sale of Medibank Private to 15% to keep it in Australians hands as well as being at the forefront of the fight to keep Qantas as an Australian publicly listed company.

In October 2006 he again crossed the floor, unsuccessfully moving amendments to the government's cross media ownership laws.[12]

Following a four-month visit to Antarctica as a member of the External Territories Committee in May 2006 Joyce promoted mining of Antarctica, banned under the Antarctic Treaty. Joyce justified his proposal by saying:[13]

There's minerals there, there's gold, there's iron ore, there's coal, there's huge fish resources and what you have to ask is: 'Do I turn my head and allow another country to exploit my resource ... or do I position myself in such a way as I'm going to exploit it myself before they get there'.

In defending his position Joyce argued that other nations did not recognise Australia's 42 per cent claim over Antarctica. The proposal was roundly criticised including by Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell and Labor Opposition spokesman, Anthony Albanese.

On 4 January 2016 Federal Labor MP David Feeney made a similar warning in an opinion piece in The Australian newspaper, stating: "There is a fear that the bountiful mineral and oil resources of Antarctica may become an irresistible target for energy-hungry powers." [14] Feeney argued that Australia needed to increase its ongoing scientific funding to maintain Australia's claim on these resources.

The only practising accountant in the Coalition, Joyce has a bluntness to the economic debate that raises the ire of his colleagues but has interested the media such as with his statement on the then Rudd government's first stimulus package in 2008, supported at the time by the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, that it would "be spread across the floor on Christmas Day with 'Made in China' written on the back".[15] The Coalition backed Joyce's position of rejecting later stimulus packages.

Crossing the floor

Publicly, there is a perception that Joyce is a "maverick",[16] and is someone who is not beholden to the Liberals.[17] In total, Joyce has crossed the floor 28 times so far during his time in Parliament.[18] As a Senator, Joyce used the threat of crossing the floor to extract concessions from his own government on various issues, most notably in relation to the sale of Telstra.[19] The TheyVoteForYou website, which monitors the voting patterns of federal politicians, record that Joyce has "rebelled" against the party whip in 1.1% of divisions.[20] The following table lists the legislation on which Joyce has crossed the floor, but does not include motions.

Year Legislation Voting Stance Outcome of Legislation Citation
2006 Petroleum Retail Legislation Repeal Bill, 2006 No Passed [20]
2006 Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2005 No Passed [20]
2006 Tax Laws Amendment (2006 Measures No. 4) Bill 2006 No Passed [20]

By convention, and in accordance with the well established principles of "Collective Responsibility" and "Cabinet Solidarity", all members of Cabinet are obligated to support the position of the Government including on matters of legislation and motions which the Parliament must decide. Therefore, as a Minister and member of Cabinet, Joyce is prohibited from crossing the floor, or if he does so, is required to resign as a Minister.

Leader of the Nationals in the Senate

In September 2008, Joyce replaced Nigel Scullion as Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, and stated that his party in the upper house would no longer necessarily vote with their Liberal counterparts in the upper house, which opened up another possible avenue for the Labor government to pass legislation.[4][21][22] He was able to gain the majority support of the five Nationals (including one CLP) Senators through Fiona Nash and John Williams. The takeover was not expected nor revealed to the party until after it took place.[23] Joyce remained leader of his party despite the Queensland divisions of the Liberal and National parties merging into the Liberal National Party of Queensland in July, 2008.

In February 2010 Joyce declared that Australia was "going to hock to our eyeballs to people overseas" and was "getting to a point where we can't repay it". This led to a response from the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, that he had "yet to meet a finance minister [sic] who has ever mused any possibility about debt default of his own country" and that there were "few things less likely than Australia defaulting on its sovereign debt".[24] Joyce was re-elected in the 2010 election on a joint LNP ticket with Senators Brandis and Mason, but he got more below the line votes than above the line votes. He was appointed the Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water and retained his role as leader of the Nationals in the Senate.[25]

House of Representatives (2013–present)

On 13 April 2013, Joyce won the Nationals preselection for the House of Representatives seat of New England in New South Wales, for the September 2013 election. The seat was then held by independent politician Tony Windsor, who held the seat on a margin of 21.52%, and who subsequently announced his retirement.[26] Independent state parliamentarian Richard Torbay had been preselected as National candidate in August 2012, but was pushed out due to concerns about his ownership of several Centrelink buildings.[27] Joyce resigned his Senate place on 8 August 2013. On 25 May 2013, Barry O'Sullivan was selected to replace him in the Senate.[28]

Joyce won the seat of New England with a margin of 21 points. He is also the first person to win back both a Senate seat and a House of Representatives seat previously lost by the Coalition. Following the election, Joyce was elected deputy leader of the Nationals. Joyce was sworn in as the Minister for Agriculture on 18 September 2013, expanded to include Water Resources on 21 September 2015, in the First Turnbull Ministry.[29]

In 2015 Joyce claimed more attention after warning actor Johnny Depp that if he failed to remove his dogs from Australia, imported illegally, they would be euthanized.[30]

Joyce faced a stiff challenge from Windsor at the 2016 election. Seat-level polling in the seat of New England found Joyce and Windsor neck and neck.[31][32][33] On election day, however, Joyce won handily, with 58 percent of the two-party vote. He actually won a majority on the primary vote, enough to retain the seat without the need for preferences.

Leader of the National Party

On 11 February 2016, Joyce was elected unopposed as Leader of the National Party, with Fiona Nash as his deputy, and was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia on February 18, 2016.[34]

Social issues

Joyce took offence at a pamphlet handed out by Family First candidate Danny Nalliah, which identified bottle shops, brothels, masonic lodges, mosques, and Hindu and Buddhist temples as "strongholds of Satan", and said that he did not want the preferences of such a party. Joyce criticised the party, calling them "the lunatic Right", and saying that "these are not the sort of people you do preference deals with".[35]

Joyce has spoken out in opposition to same-sex marriage, attending several rallies on the matter in Canberra.[36][37] In 2011, he lobbied against a bill proposed by senator Sarah Hanson-Young that would allow for same-sex couples to marry.

In recent years Joyce has changed his views in relation to medical cannabis, and in 2014 he publicly supported calls for the introduction of a medicinal cannabis trial following a high profile campaign led by a young man in his own constituency, Dan Haslam, who was at the time suffering from an aggressive form of terminal cancer. Joyce said following his meeting with Mr Haslam:

"You’re always moved by someone who has cancer and they are looking for whatever opportunity may exist to deal with it. I am against cannabis for recreational use, but just as people grow opium for therapeutic use in palliative care and pain control, if there is a capacity for the active constituents in cannabis to be prescribed to assist with conditions such as terminal cancer, this should be considered. If it is under strict controls and prescribed by a doctor it should be considered."[38]

In September, 2015, Joyce was the first senior minister to call for the Australian Government to accept more Syrian refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis engulfing Turkey and Europe.[39] However, his call to prioritise Christian refugees above those from other faiths drew criticism from some human rights observers.[40]

Economic issues

On the economy, Joyce has often earned the ire of his economic rationalist parliamentary colleagues in the Liberal Party of Australia. Though not popular among the Coalition, Joyce has taken up a number of causes often labelled as populist, such as his support for the retention of a single-desk wheat export marketing system for Australian grain growers, drought assistance for primary producers, and amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 and media reform regulations that aim to strengthen the ability of small business to compete with multi-national corporations. When questioned on his views, he stated "Maybe I'm an agrarian socialist, I don't know, is there a problem with being an agrarian socialist?".[41]

On 17 March 2009, Joyce launched a privately funded advertisement campaign to keep Rio Tinto local, attacking a bid by the Chinese government-owned resources company Chinalco, a bid which has also been heavily criticised by Legal & General in the United Kingdom.[42]

Joyce also stopped the sale of Qantas to Allco Finance Group in 2006; Allco Finance Group later collapsed.

Joyce is also known to oppose the sale of large Australian agricultural assets to foreign investors. In 2012, as the Opposition spokesman for Water, he was vocal in his opposition to the sale of Cubbie Station to a consortium led by a Chinese State Owned Enterprise.[43] The then Treasurer, Wayne Swan, ultimately approved the sale. In 2013, as Agriculture Minister, Joyce as well as his National Party colleagues, strongly opposed the proposed sale of Australia's largest bulk grain handler GrainCorp to the American company Archer Daniels Midland. The then Liberal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, rejected the sale based on the hugely discretionary "National Interest" grounds which a Treasurer can use to block such transactions. Despite the reasons Hockey used to justify his decision, it was widely reported that the National Party demanded this outcome, with the Labor Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen accusing the junior Coalition partner of "bullying" the Treasurer into arriving at this decision.[44]

In 2015, Joyce voiced opposition to the sale of another large Australian asset to foreign buyers, this time S Kidman & Co. which owned the largest combined landholdings in Australia, including the iconic Kidman Station. Most of the known interest came from Chinese companies therefore Joyce was accused of xenophobia, claims which he rejected. In November 2015, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison decided that the sale of S Kidman & Co to any foreign investor would not be approved based on national security grounds, due to part of the company being in the vicinity of the Woomera Prohibited Area, among other reasons.[45] The Labor Shadow Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon slammed the Government's decision as "political" and accused it of running a "discriminatory foreign investment regime".[46]


  1. Swan, Jonathan; Visentin, Lisa; Wade, Matt; Khaicy, Gemma (20 April 2014). "Coalition celebrates a religious Easter: Eight of 19 cabinet members are Catholic". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  2. "Ministerial Swearing-in Ceremony". Events. Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Nationals won't toe Libs' line: Joyce". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  5. Debelle, Penelope (31 May 2008). "Independently inclined". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  6. Clifford, Catherine (8 August 2013). "8 years in Senate over as Barnaby bows out". ABC News. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  7. About Barnaby:
  8. Public Speeches: - via; retrieved 17 April 2010
  9. 1 2 3 4 Koutsoukis, Jason (16 April 2005). "The power of one in the bush". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  10. Todd, Mark; Seccombe, Mike (1 August 2005). "Joyce digs in for keeps to set up Telstra fund". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  11. O'Brien, Kerry (14 September 2005). "Joyce stands by Telstra vote" (transcript). 7.30 Report. Australia: ABC TV. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  12. Bell, Lynn (12 October 2006). "Media laws pass the Senate". PM. Australia: ABC Radio. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  13. "Mine Antarctica, says Barnaby Joyce". The Age. Melbourne. AAP. 1 May 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  14. David Feeney, Chilling Prospect of Funding Failure in Antarctica, The Australian, 4 January 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016
  15. Joyce, Barnaby (11 May 2009). Address to the National Press Club (Speech). Canberra: Barnaby Joyce. Archived from the original on 30 July 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  16. Catherine McGrath; Mark Colvin (12 October 2005). "Maverick Barnaby Joyce criticised by Nationals leader for crossing the floor". ABC PM Radio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  17. "You can depend on the Nationals". Open Australia Foundation. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  18. "Nationals senators cross the floor out of frustration with Coalition counterparts - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  19. "The World Today - Joyce attacked for crossing the floor". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  20. 1 2 3 4 "Barnaby Joyce". They Vote For You. Open Australia Foundation. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  21. Berkovic, Nicola (18 September 2008). "Leader Barnaby Joyce still a maverick". The Australian. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  22. "Barnaby elected Nationals Senate leader". AM. Australia: ABC Radio. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  23. Grattan, Michelle (18 September 2008). "A quiet coup makes Joyce Senate leader of Nationals". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  24. Martin, Peter (20 February 2010). "Reserve at odds with Joyce view". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  25. "Senator Barnaby Joyce". Senators and Members. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  26. "Barnaby Joyce wins preselection for lower house seat of New England". AAP. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  27. "Northern Tablelands voters look set to elect local mayor as next state MP". Independent Media Centre Australia. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  28. Remeikis, Amy: LNP's Barry O'Sullivan headed for Senate, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2013.
  29. "Ministers". About us. Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Australian Government. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  30. "Depp makes fun of Joyce with joke about killing dogs". Nine News. 5 September 2015.
  31. Tony Windsor could beat Barnaby Joyce in New England seat, poll says: The Guardian 29 February 2016
  32. Barnaby Joyce claims 'underdog' status against Tony Windsor in fight to keep seat of New England: ABC 14 March 2016
  33. Deputy PM in danger of wipe-out: The Australian 14 March 2016
  34. "As it happened: Barnaby Joyce elected unopposed to Nationals leadership, Fiona Nash deputy - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2016-02-11. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  35. Roberts, Greg (8 October 2004). "Nationals split over Family First deal – Election 2004". The Australian. p. 9. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  36. "Anger over rally to ridicule gay marriage". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 August 2011.
  37. Judith Ireland & Richard Willingham (14 August 2012). "If rights are what you want, don't get married: Joyce". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  38. Joyce joins calls for medicinal cannabis: 1 June 2014 Daily Telegraph
  39. "Bring in more Syrian refugees: Barnaby Joyce". The West Australian. 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  40. Kidman, Alex (2015-09-07). "Syrian refugee crisis: This is about humanity, not religion - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  41. Joyce, Barnaby (11 September 2005). "Barnaby Joyce: A Most Interesting Senator". Background Briefing (transcript). Interview with Antony Funnell. Australia: Radio National. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  42. Joyce, Barnaby (17 March 2009). "Barnaby Joyce launches campaign to keep Rio Tinto local". 7.30 Report (transcript). Interview with Kerry O'Brien. Australia: ABCTV. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  43. Barnaby Joyce. "We have concerns over sale of Cubbie Station: Barnaby Joyce". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  44. "Government rejection of GrainCorp takeover by US company Archer Daniels Midland 'weak', Opposition says - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2013-11-29. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  45. Tim Elliott. "Kidman sale halt a chance 'to reassess'". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  46. "Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon slams 'political' decision to block Kidman & Co sale - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2015-11-21. Retrieved 2016-04-17.

External links

Wikinews has related news: Key Australian senator Barnaby Joyce crosses floor for first time
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Len Harris
Senator for Queensland
Succeeded by
Barry O'Sullivan
Preceded by
Tony Windsor
Member for New England
Political offices
Preceded by
Joel Fitzgibbon
as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Preceded by
Warren Truss
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Party political offices
Preceded by
Nigel Scullion
Leader of the National Party in the Senate
Succeeded by
Nigel Scullion
Preceded by
Nigel Scullion
Deputy Leader of the National Party
Succeeded by
Fiona Nash
Preceded by
Warren Truss
Leader of the National Party
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