Barnaby Joyce; Who and What is he?


Barnaby Joyce’s father, James Michael Joyce, was a New Zealander who was wounded in the WW2 and, on a scholarship, moved to Australia to study veterinary science at Sydney University where he met Barnaby’s mother while she was studying physiotherapy. An engagement notice in the Sydney Morning Herald of 16 February 1952 gives clues of the background of Barnaby Joyce.Troy Roche

JOYCE-ROCHE.-The Engagement is announced of Beryl Marie, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Roche, of Green Hills. Adelong, to James Michael, elder son of Lt.- Colonel J. P. Joyce, OBE. D.C.M.. and Mrs. Joyce, of Hampden, Otago, New Zealand.[9]

They married in 1956 and made their living as farmers. [1]

The Joyce family has a proud history of military service. His grandfather John landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and finished World War I on the Western Front. He also fought in the Second World War, and in between the wars served as bodyguard to the future King Edward VIII. [1]


Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce was born on 17 April 1967 in Tamworth, New South Wales and raised in Woolbrook. He grew up in the nearby northern NSW township of Danglemah. One of six children from a sheep-and-cattle farming family. He has four brothers and a sister. Joyce describes his upbringing as austere and intellectually rigorous – “totally enthused by each other’s company, they ooze brains. The family home was wall-to-wall books. Every dinner time a political argument of some kind.” He attended St Ignatius’ College, Riverview in Sydney where he played Rugby, and the University of New England in Armidale, where he resided at St Albert’s College and graduated with a Bachelor of Financial Administration degree in 1989. [1] barnabyrugby2

Always a keen rugby player, Barnaby proudly threw on the jersey for St Albies College at UNE where he counts three premiership appearances, one lost front tooth, distended spleen, 28 stitches across his face, fractured ribs and partially popped shoulder among his firm memories from his time on the paddock. [2]

He played rugby union with Walcha’s premiership winning team in 1990 and was selected to represent Central North in 1993 and he reminisces fondly about end of line-out match-ups with Tamworth’s Bernie Klasen. [5]

His parents’ politics are different to his own. “His mother would vote for Kim Beazley before John Howard – Joyce says she believes Howard has brought Australia down – and both his parents are staunch republicans whereas he is a monarchist. On social issues too he is more conservative. “I’m a strong Catholic. I’m anti-abortion, I’m anti death penalty and I’m going to be standing up for conservative family values.[1]


While studying accountancy at the University of New England (1986-89), Barnaby met Natalie who has Lebanese ancestry and is from Manilla, downstream on the Namoi River. The two were married in 1993. [2]

Joyce’s parents were against their marriage. “I remember entering the church to be married and on her side every pew was taken by family and friends. On my side only two pews were taken. None of my family came… It was very hard to take at the time, but I always kept the door open and now that is far behind us. We are fully reconciled.” [1]

Joyce served in the Australian Army Reserve from 1994 to 1999. [4]

barnaby familyTheir four daughters, Bridgette, Julie, Caroline and Odette were all born in Tamworth.[2]

On Australian Story his wife commented, “Politics was where he wanted to go and he had his life set out. Basically, tunnel vision – knows exactly where he’s going. The tunnel vision is sometimes very difficult. But, yeah, sometimes he needs a good kick to remind him that, you know, he does have a wife and four children and we are still here sometimes. But, yeah, you give him that little swift kick and he usually, “Oh, right, yep, OK.” And away we go again.[6]


Here we find a certain discrepancy in the records.

Firstly, from his Electoral web Biography. “After graduation, Barnaby spent three years with a chartered accountancy firm then a short period with an American multinational in cost accounting before completing five years with a major regional bank. With a choice between a senior role in banking or starting his own business, Barnaby chose the latter and owned and operated Barnaby Joyce and Co for ten years in the western Queensland town of St George.” [2]

Secondly, from the article “The Power of One in the Bush”, published in the Age in 2005, “After graduation, Joyce moved around northern NSW and southern Queensland – working for a time as a nightclub bouncer in Moree, which earned him 26 stitches on his face, and later as a rural banker in Charleville – before settling in St George eight years ago where Joyce worked in the accounting profession from 1991 to 2005 until he became a Senator. He is a Fellow of CPA Australia. . [1]

Thirdly, the Sydney Morning Herald gave a third biography. “He’s no stranger to pubs, having broken just about every bone in that right hand in two years as a bouncer at the Wicklow Hotel in Armidale. The hand still hurts. . . The product of a politically aware family with a proud military history (his grandfather fought at Gallipoli and in World War II), Joyce grew up on a cattle property at Danglemah, north-east of Tamworth. He boarded at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, in Sydney (an experience he never enjoyed) before studying accountancy at Armidale as a final “social” fling. He then “committed” himself to the land, all he ever wanted to do. . . . . He worked as a bouncer in Armidale for a while after university when, he believes, a hotel owner spotted him playing rugby in his aggressive style, usually in the second row or at breakaway. “I wasn’t that big for my position so I had to make up for it,” Joyce says. . . . . . Eventually he returned home to the land but the stable life path he’d plotted for himself changed when his parents gave him a stark choice: he could either take on the family property or marry his then girlfriend, Natalie, of whom they disapproved. So, I had to become an accountant, which I never thought I’d have to do,” Joyce says. When he and Natalie married his family stayed away. Although they’re reconciled now, it’s still painful for Joyce to discuss. The couple moved around northern NSW and into Queensland, arriving in St George in 1998 with only a four-wheel-drive and a hard slog ahead of them to build an accountancy business.” [8]

Fourthly, according to the Parliament of Australia official website his pre-parliamentary life and qualifications consisted of;

  • Farm worker 1989-91.
  • Accountant 1991-94.
  • Rural banker 1994-98.
  • Self-employed accountant 1998-2005. [13]

There are aspects of each of these self written or spoken life stories which cannot be reconciled.

In Jonathan Green’s “Background Briefing of 11 September 2005 for Radio National, Barnaby’s brother, Michael Joyce said, “This is the office of Barnaby Joyce and Co. This is where Barnaby actually started his accountancy practice in St George, and now I’ve sort of taken over the business, although Barnaby still maintains an interest. But I’ve taken over the running of the business.[3]


On an Australian Story program, Barnaby commented, “My family thought Joh Bjelke-Petersen was the best thing since sliced bread. I always had that desire to go into politics from probably an extraordinarily young age. I wasn’t a saint, but I was also driven by a strong sort of spiritual issue. And there’s a belief that to have an effect on the way a nation works you’ve got to be in a position of influence[6]

Barnaby apparently has a photograph of Joh on his parliamentary office wall.

He joined the National Party in 1994 and held a number of positions leading up to his election as a Senator in 2004

  • Chair, National Party Charleville Branch 1995.
  • Vice-Chair, National Party Warrego Electorate Council 1995.
  • Delegate, The Nationals’ State Conference (Qld) from 1995.
  • Delegate, The Nationals’ Central Council from 2000.
  • Member, The Nationals’ State Management Committee 2002-05.
  • Assistant Treasurer, The Nationals (Qld) 2002-05; Acting Treasurer 2004.
  • Member, National Party Federal Council 2002.
  • Chair, The Nationals’ St George Branch 2003-05. [13]

2005 – 2013 In the Senate

Joyce was elected to the Senate in the 2004 election representing the National Party; his term commenced on 1 July 2005 and ran until 30 June 2011. He was re-elected at the 2010 election as a member of the Liberal National Party, formed from a merger of the Queensland divisions of the two non-Labor parties. Joyce regained the seat that the Nationals lost to the One Nation Party in 1998, defeating the One Nation Senator Len Harris. [4]

On 16th August, 2005, he gave his Maiden Speech in the Senate and began, “Thank you, Mr President. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge my parents who brought me into this world, my wife, Natalie, and children Bridgette, Julia, Caroline and Odette who support me in this world, and my God who oversees all and who hopefully I will meet in the next. [10]

He stated that his major concern was, “Today we have accepted a situation in Australia that would be unacceptable elsewhere in the world: we allow two retailers to control between 75 and 85 per cent of our retail market. In the USA you need to count the top 12 retailers before you arrive at the market share that our top two have. In the UK it is the top eight. In Australia this disenfranchises the right of our citizens to attain the greatest level of their personal freedom by attaining the highest level of control over their destiny, which comes by being master of your own business.[10]

He concluded his speech with, “In summary to my purpose, I reflect on that of my grandmother Troy Roche [Gladys Troy Roche (B.A., .Dip. Modern Languages) of Adelong, outspoken anti-communist and regular broadcaster on radio 2WG], who left me with this piece from Kipling, and I conclude by leaving all here with the same. I hope that it may serve all of us in some fashion in the aspirations it lays out. He then recited that famous Kipling piece, “If”. [10]

Outspoken Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce last night declared his greatest goal in public life was to ban “the unfortunate carnage” of abortion. The newly elected National senator told an audience of 120, including Family First senator Steve Fielding and his wife Susan, that he would work hard to introduce the abortion debate into the current session of Parliament. He said a child’s right to life began at conception not at birth. [7]

barnaby6aOne of the things Barnaby did, as a as a member of the External Territories Committee was to take a four month trip to Antarctica in May 2006. His mother Marie comented, on Australian Story, “When Barnaby got married and went away, I very carefully put these stamp albums away. It’s very interesting, now that Barnaby’s got to the Antarctic, that he’s doing something that his father nearly did. Jim is a vet. He very nearly went with that wonderful (1958) expedition of Sir Edmund Hillary across the Antarctic. Course, when Jim heard that Barnaby was going to the Antarctic, he said… he was absolutely enthralled. He said, “That’s something that… You are just so lucky. That’s something I really wanted to do.[6]

When he returned he commented, “We claim 42% of the Antarctic but that claim is not recognised by quite a number of countries. There’s minerals there, there’s gold, there’s iron ore, there’s coal, there’s huge fish resources. What you have to ask is, “Do I turn my head and allow another country to exploit my resource? Or do I position myself in such a way as I’m going to exploit it myself before they get there?[6]

barnaby 2007On three occasions in 2005/2006 he crossed the floor to vote against Government bills. He crossed the floor to vote with the ALP and minor parties on 11 October 2005 on two motions concerning the Trade Practices Act 1974. Although both motions were lost 32–32, it was the first time since 1986 that a Government Senator has crossed the floor. Then on 9 December 2005 he crossed to oppose Government’s “Voluntary Student Unionism” Bill banning the levying of compulsory service or amenity fees by universities. This was ultimately futile as the Government had secured the vote of Family First Senator Steve Fielding. In October 2006 he again crossed the floor, unsuccessfully moving amendments to the government’s cross media ownership laws. [4]

Having made his point, he was able to receive concessions from the Howard Government in respect of the sale of Telstra and other “Bush” and “Small Business” related matters. However, he crossed the floor to vote against his own government’s legislation on an extraordinary 28 occasions.

ON THE day Malcolm Turnbull rolled Brendan Nelson, 17th September, 2008, there was another changing of the guard in the Coalition. Maverick senator Barnaby Joyce ousted Nigel Scullion as the Nationals’ Senate leader. Unlike the fanfare surrounding the main game, this was a quiet, private affair. So private that Nationals leader Warren Truss did not know until afterwards. Senator Joyce rang to tell him, but could not get through because Truss’ mobile phone was on the blink. He left a message. The poacher had turned gamekeeper. Or, perhaps more alarming for the Coalition, the poacher may have managed to establish a poachers’ union, of which he is chief organiser. [12]

On 17 March 2009, Joyce launched a privately funded advertisement campaign to keep Rio Tinto local, attacking a bid by the Chinese government-owned resources company Chinalco, a bid which has also been heavily criticised by Legal & General in the United Kingdom. Joyce also stopped the sale of Qantas to Allco Finance Group in 2006; Allco Finance Group later collapsed. [4]

His appointments in the Howard Government and into Opposition were;

Committee service

  • Senate Standing: Library from 16.8.05 to 7.12.05.
  • Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade: Legislation Committee from 16.8.05 to 13.9.05 and References Committee from 6.9.05 to 11.9.06; Legal and Constitutional: References Committee from 16.8.05 to 11.9.06; Economics from 11.9.06 to 14.5.09; [13]

In Opposition he was on the following committees;

  • Economics: Legislation and References Committees from 14.5.09 to 2.2.10.
  • Senate Select: Fuel and Energy from 26.6.08 to 18.3.10.
  • Joint Standing: National Capital and External Territories from 16.8.05 to 11.3.10.
  • Joint Select: Parliamentary Budget Office from 23.11.10 to 23.3.11; Broadcasting Legislation from 14.3.13 to 24.6.13. [13]

He also held the following shadow-ministerial positions;

  • Member, Opposition Shadow Ministry from 8.12.09 to 18.9.13. Shadow Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction from 8.12.09 to 25.3.10; Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure and Water from 25.3.10 to 14.9.10; Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water from 14.9.10 to 18.9.13.
  • Leader of The Nationals in the Senate from 17.9.08 to 8.8.13.
  • Federal Parliamentary Deputy Leader, The Nationals from 13.9.13 to 11.2.16.
  • Member, Opposition Shadow Ministry from 8.12.09 to 18.9.13. Shadow Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction from 8.12.09 to 25.3.10; Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure and Water from 25.3.10 to 14.9.10; Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water from 14.9.10 to 18.9.13.
  • Leader of The Nationals in the Senate from 17.9.08 to 8.8.13. [13]

Carbon Pricing He led the insurrection against the Coalition’s support for an emissions trading scheme. The position developed by John Howard, and maintained by his successors Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull, was destroyed in a sustained attack that started with Barnaby Joyce. One of his stock phrases: “How does passing a piece of paper in a room in Canberra change the temperature of the planet?” [15]

2013-2016 In the REPS

barnaby5In 2012, Barnaby decided to move to the House of Representatives and chose to stand for the seat which included his birthplace, New England. The respected Independent, Tony Windsor, chose to stand down and Barnaby won the seat easily.

Back in Government, following the 2013 election, he was;

  • Federal Parliamentary Deputy Leader, The Nationals from 13.9.13 to 11.2.16.
  • Federal Parliamentary Leader, The Nationals from 11.2.16.
  • Minister for Agriculture from 18.9.13 to 21.9.15.
  • Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources from 21.9.15. [13]

Now a full member of the Cabinet, his ability to cross the floor was removed and while he still made a number of strange statements he was forced into becoming a part of the team.

Pistol and Boo caused quite a furore in May, 2015.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says two pet dogs belonging to US actor Johnny Depp will be put down unless the actor removes them from Australia. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States,” Mr Joyce told reporters in Canberra on Thursday, after authorities found Depp “snuck in” the Yorkshire Terriers on his private jet last month. [14]

On Thursday, 11th February he became the Leader of the National Party with the loyal Fiona Nash as his deputy and so became Deputy Prime Minister.


On Climate Change; “I never believed the science is settled. If the science was settled, Copernicus would be dead. Sorry, he is dead – he would have been killed!” – in an interview with Tony Jones

Later in the same interview; “How would you feel about Australian farm exports having carbon tariffs put on them when they arrived in the United States, because Australia does not have a price on carbon?” In a response that was positively Kingaroyian, Joyce replied, “That is a fence you will have to jump when it’s placed in front of you.”

Mr Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them, he’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs. He can put them on the same charter jet. ~ Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce 2015

The ABS statistics are way below what I think the truth is, a lot of people just don’t bother to fill out the ABS paperwork if they don’t want their story being told. ~ Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce 2015

“What is this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables going to do to our economy?” Joyce told the Senate, before veering off into a rant about wind farms in every back garden, how they were expensive, didn’t work half the time, and will never replace coal, gas, hydro or nuclear. From Hansard, Feb 2013


[1] The Age 15th Apr, 2005

[2] Barnaby Joyce Electoral Biography.

[3] ABC Background Briefing 11 September 2005

[4] Wikipedia

[5] Northern Daily Leader

[6] ABC Australian Story.

[7] The Age, July 9, 2005

[8] Sydney Morning Herald, June 25, 2005

[9] Sydney Morning Herald, 16/2/1952 (Trove)

[10] Hansard, Senate Maiden Speech

[11] The New Daily 11th Feb, 2016

[12] The Age September 18, 2008.

[13] Parliamentary Website

[14] The Australian May 14th, 2015

[15] SMH 13th Feb, 2016