Feb 24, 2016

The Sketch: Barnaby Joyce lost in Zoolander vortex

Had Malcolm Turnbull misled the house on capital gains tax?
Had he been taken out of context? Was he morphing into Tony Abbott? Would Labor
leave the average Australian house worth little more than a sack of chokos?
While all these topics enlivened question time, Barnaby
Joyce was — in a minor masterpiece of multi-tasking — conducting a different
campaign against Chris Bowen.
After one of the opposition Treasury spokesman’s needling
questions, Joyce’s voice could be heard: “Say it again, you sexy man.”
Bowen’s face is one that spans the ages. In profile, it has
the classical lines of an ancient Greek battle helmet. But his beard speaks of
gentler times — of troubadours who sit about plucking lutes and stroking ruffs.
However, as Bowen stood at the dispatch box in a natty blue suit, all Joyce
could see was the title character of Zoolander, a vacuous but good-hearted
“Blue steel,” he yelled, referencing one of Zoolander’s
trademark catwalk duckface ex­pressions.
Truth be told, a far more ­cutting-edge fashion had unfurled
earlier in the day when Glenn Lazarus lumbered through parliament’s corridors
attired in a tie, business shirt, shorts and runners. But what looked like a
surprise salute to the ghost of Don Dunstan was the result of a TV interview in
which he appeared only from the waist up.
Back in question time, the Deputy PM was having a wonderful
“Magnum,” he roared, invoking the facial expression from
­Zoolander’s climax. When Julie Bishop’s hand gently alighted on his arm, it
was hard to tell if she was egging him on or, to borrow from Pride and
Prejudice’s Mr Bennet, informing him he had delighted them long enough.
The PM lobbed grenades and unveiled the splendour of a
five-word slogan (“Vote Labor and be poorer”). Labor ripped into him in return
with a bit of false dichotomy (“Either this PM is dishonest or he is
incompetent; he cannot be both”).
But the Zoolander booby-traps were everywhere for Joyce, who
was immersed in his metaphor. Not least when Speaker Tony Smith welcomed a
parliamentary delegation from Malaysia; it was if an electric current had
passed through Joyce. (For those unfamiliar, Zoolander is brainwashed and
pulled into a plot to assassinate the sweatshop-closing Malaysian PM.)
Luckily, Shorten pulled Joyce out of the Zoolander vortex
when he recycled a joke from a speech that morning: “We saw the bewildered
looks of the faces of the members behind (Turnbull); to be fair, for the Deputy
PM it’s a standard look.”
Joyce responded with a theatrically hearty slap of the

By the time Turnbull offered some sound universal advice
(“When you are in a tax hole, stop digging”), he was finally at peace.

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