On Tuesday night, Barnaby Joyce was meant to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss the new Coalition ministry, but he had to suddenly return to his Tamworth home to nurse an injured knee – a result of an attack.
The attacker was not a disgruntled voter or anyone else related to the election, but one of his own. His own sheep, that is. Mr. Joyce was butted by one of his dorpers while handling sheep in a race at his property on Monday. He was in acute pain on Tuesday when he was in Canberra for the Nationals post-election meeting, and was unusually testy with journalists.
Mr. Joyce and his deputy Fiona Nash had been expected to meet Turnbull in Canberra on Wednesday. On Tuesday night it was unclear whether they would talk by telephone or whether Mr. Joyce’s injury would be enough improved to allow him to return from Tamworth to Sydney on Wednesday.
Post-election, it has been determined that the Nationals are entitled to extra ministerial representation, reflecting their bigger proportion of the Coalition. Their numbers have increased from 21 to 22. This is because there is a power-sharing deal between them and the Liberals, a deal that Mr. Joyce has been wanting to keep secret.
It is rumoured that in the last deal Malcolm Turnbull gave undertakings to legislate the effects test into competition law to protect small business, ensured a plebiscite would precede any changes to marriage law, and set courses on other policies on stay-at-home mothers and water.
However, in a Parliament in which virtually every piece of legislation could be the subject of line-by-line negotiations with the opposition and crossbench senators, those parties also have a right to know if the PM is at full liberty to bargain, or is constrained by some secret invisible hand.