There’s been a lot of talk about Barnaby Joyce’s phone these last couple of days. He was first “out of range” when the Project wanted to contact him about the growing water buyback story, which has been most prominently promoted by Michael West and the Project’s Hamish McDonald.
By Sunday, Barnaby had come back in range, because he wanted to control the messaging about the story through sending a text to the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas during the Insiders program on Sunday.
On Sunday, there had been a lot of chatter on twitter about whether Karvelas should have read out Barnaby’s text verbatim on air. Most of it was blowback from people who wanted the story to get out further into the mainstream, be a bigger part of the news and were afraid that Karvelas reading out the text would end the story. After all, there had been many other stories to which that had happened in the past, such as “Ashbygate”, Parakeelia and Paladin, amongst others.
This is not to suggest that people were correct in blasting Karvelas for having Barnaby’s number, or for reading out the text. There were questions to be asked about the context of what Joyce was aiming to do and whether it was wise to be playing into that. Time, however, answered those questions over the next 24 hours. Patience, however, is a virtue left at the door at such times, especially during election campaigns. That’s because it wasn’t the end of the story, and it blew up on Monday, which numerous stories from The Guardian, the ABC, the Herald, 10 Daily, even the Herald Sun – though the Courier Mail was, two hours later, trying to muddy the waters and back up Barnaby’s claims. Those claims have repudiated by both McDonald and by Anne Davies in The Guardian.
Yet the main figure in the Sunday drama – Karvelas, did manage to get Barnaby on the phone again for one of the more extraordinary, ranting interviews ever heard on the radio. It’s well worth listening to in full. Karvelas’ patience is something to note as Joyce really does seem to have been ill-advised to call.
We managed to get to listening to it just after watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, where Oliver decided to have fun with a Japanese “mascot” called Chiitan. Somehow, as we were sitting there, my wife decided that the amazing videos of Chiitan – to be found on Twitter at @ogecebel – would go well with excerpts of the Barnaby interview. So, here they are – they will provide the gist and tone of the interview.