When Barnaby Joyce announced his decision to run for the House of Representatives, then Prime Minister Gillard was quick off the mark to scare little kiddies with bogeyman tales of a Deputy Prime Minister Joyce. Not since Bronwyn Bishop made the switch from the Senate to Mackellar in 1993 had there been such a transparent play for a party’s leadership.
Barnaby is obviously after the leadership, why else would he leave the Senate where he had much greater influence over legislation than he ever will in the Lower House. So what’s he doing playing second fiddle to someone like Trussy? Barnaby is one of the most popular politicians in the country, like Kevin Rudd there are large blocks of voters who like him on a personal level, surely he’d have the measure of someone like Warren Truss.
I suspect there is something of a Howard/Costello leadership deal in play. “I only want one term mate, get a bit of ministerial experience then in three years time I’ll step down and you can take the leadership unopposed.” In many ways this would be a rather nice arrangement for Barnaby, he still gets his ultimate prize but doesn’t appear so ruthless or ambitious, plus he can be a rebel for a few more years before he takes the leadership and is forced to behave himself. Of course a few years down the track, relinquishing the leadership often becomes a lot harder than anyone envisioned as Peter Costello, Paul Keating and Gordon Brown all discovered the hard way, but then again none of them enjoyed such a clear advantageous over their respective leaders as Barnaby does over Trussy.