Barnaby Joyce’s crass toilet analogy on Gaza conflict: A step too far?

May 21, 2021
Barnaby Joyce has told Q+A that Australia need not get involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Source: Twitter/@QandA

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce is copping criticism for comments he made about the Gaza conflict during an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Thursday night.

Joyce was responding to an audience question about where the Federal Government stands on the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis when he compared the deadly conflict to a “turd in my toilet” and said it wasn’t Australia’s responsibility to fix other countries’ problems.

“I don’t want their problems in our (country) — whether it is Catholic-Protestants, a Yugoslav issue or Sudan issue that’s on the other side of the world. We have enough problems closer to home,” he said.

“We have problems in West Papua and Bougainville (Island). I don’t think anything is worth a drop of human blood. When people fire the first shot, they lose the argument.

“And what do we say? If I get engrossed in Palestinian-Israeli politics, and I take my mind off here profanely, but you say things with resonance to remember them. I don’t care. I don’t want to see someone else’s turd in my toilet. And if you come to our country, flush it.”

Q&A host Hamish Macdonald appeared shocked by Joyce’s comments and asked, “Isn’t that a bit disrespectful?”

“There are people dying in Gaza, in Israel, right now. You’re a serving member of our parliament,” Macdonald said.

Joyce responded by saying he didn’t believe it was Australia’s role to “explain” that the countries should stop the conflict, and that neither Benjamin Netanyahu — the Prime Minister of Israel — or Hamas – the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement – “give a flying toss about what Australia thinks”.

“What do I do? What exactly do I do? Do we go over there and say to Benjamin Netanyahu, ‘Stop’. Everybody is saying that. Do we go to Hamas and try to explain to people that they’ve got to stop sending missiles randomly into people’s neighbourhoods to kill them? What is exactly my role?

“Our role in this is to say the bleeding obvious. I don’t think that one person is endorsing — not one drop of blood, not one person should be killed. Everybody is saying that.

“The trouble is, Hamish, they just don’t listen. This is a conflict that’s been going for as long as you and I, probably back 1000 years, probably past. It has to be that they have the epiphany that they have to stop killing each other … The only thing I can do as a member of parliament is to say, ‘Your problem. You should fix it up. You shouldn’t kill anybody. But don’t ever make it our problem’.”

His comments have sparked a wider debate about Australia’s position on foreign diplomacy, especially as our borders remain closed due to the pandemic. While globalisation screeched to a halt in 2020 as coronavirus spread rapidly around the world, many countries are now looking towards the future with the hopes of ramping up international trade and travel once again.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hasn’t given a clear indication of when Australia’s international borders will open, but has made clear the government’s focus is on domestic issues such as securing economic growth at home. Just two weeks ago, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the government was slashing foreign aid spending by $44 million. It is expected the government’s freeze on aid funding will last until 2022-23.

Viewers quickly took to social media to share their views on the matter, with some agreeing with Joyce’s stance and others slamming him for his lack of empathy.

“I think Joyce is spot on,” one person wrote on Twitter. “What exactly can anyone in Australia do?”

Another wrote: “I dont (sic) want to see someone else’s turd in my toilet … this from a leader of our country? What a disgraceful comment about ppl being slaughtered in Palestine turds or rats or people that throw baby’s into the sea. This is evil,” one user wrote.

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Tony Burke was also a guest on Q&A on Thursday night and weighed in on the issue during the episode, saying Australia could not wash its hands of the conflict.

“When a natural disaster happens around the world, we grieve with those countries,” he said. “When there’s a bombing somewhere in the world, we mourn with those people and show the solidarity people show each other. I don’t agree that Australia should in any way be silent.

“It’s not normal if you’re living your life in fear of bombs. It’s not normal in Israel. It shouldn’t be normal in Palestine.

“Something like this is where you show your humanity and you show the solidarity between nations. You don’t say, ‘Not my problem. Other side of the world. Not going to have much to say’.”

Do you think Australia should step in and help? Or is Barnaby Joyce on the right track here?

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