Barnaby cooks up a plan

FEDERAL POLITICS:

Former federal National Party leader Barnaby Joyce has proposed a five-point plan to ensure the party remains financially viable in the face of calls for stricter rules on political donations.

It follows news that the Nationals received only five donations in 2019-20 that exceeded the $14,000 public disclosure level including one from a company owned by businessman Clive Palmer which donated $75,000 even though Mr Palmer runs a rival party.

At a news conference in Canberra Mr Joyce was critical of the erosion of the party’s financial status saying the number of donations to the Nationals had been falling rapidly in recent years and warning colleagues that “you’re not going to be able to run a political party on lamington drives”.

“In pointing out that donations have almost dried up since I left the party leadership I am simply stating the facts,” Mr Joyce said.

“I am not being critical of our party’s temporary… I mean current leader whoever he or she may be. You tell me.

“I can assure him or her, whatever, that he or she has my full support. At this point in time.

“And by ‘at this point in time’ I mean of course for the time it took for me to utter that particular phrase.

“I only have the National Party’s best interests at heart and nobody should view my comments on political donations as adding fuel to the irrefutable argument that I should be leader again.”

When asked to detail his five-point plan Mr Joyce handed reporters a DL-size piece of cardboard with four points scribbled on one side.

The four points were:

  • scrapping all political donation reporting laws including bans on foreign donations;
  • allowing donations of any size from any person;
  • making Gina Reinhardt federal treasurer of the National Party; and
  • allowing Clive Palmer to hold dual membership of both his United Australia Party and the National Party.

When asked about the fifth point of his plan Mr Joyce said it was also on the sheet of cardboard, then hurried away before reporters turned the sheet over to discover it was a National Party election flyer for the seat of New England from the 2016 federal election declaring “Re-elect Barnaby Joyce – National Party leader”.