There were extraordinary scenes in parliament as Barnaby Joyce put on an unusual show.
Barnaby Joyce has mocked a Labor MP for being overly-interested in his life after the deputy Prime Minister was confronted over some embarrassing past behaviour during question time.
Labor MP Stephen Jones questioned Mr Joyce about his comments back in 2010, when the then-Shadow Minister regional development claimed reports from the Productivity Commission were only worthy for use as toilet paper.
“These people actually did read the Productivity Commission reports,” Mr Joyce said.
“I use them when I run out of toilet paper, but they actually use them.”
Mr Joyce later backtracked his comments, insisting he was being ironic.
But Mr Jones would not let the Deputy PM off the hook, pointing out that Mr Joyce was now demanding a five-yearly Productivity Commission report on net zero in rural and regional Australia.
“Given the (toilet paper) statement, why is the deputy prime minister delivering the regions another Productivity Commission report?” Mr Jones asked.
Mr Joyce hit back by implying that the Labor MP was obsessed with him.
“That was more than 10 years ago … it is remarkable you have reached back that far in time,” Mr Joyce said.
“I must say I am kind of flattered. A little bit flattered that they are so interested.
“I came here feeling a bit down in the dumps. This perked me up.”
The Deputy Prime Minister then offered to send Mr Jones his family photo albums.
“You can start having a look through those,” he said.
After being directed back to the question by the Speaker, Mr Joyce defended his new-found faith in the Productivity Commission, insisting the National Party would make sure the reports reflected the needs of regional Australia.
“We are making absolutely certain in the (Productivity Commission) reports that come back that we are looking after regional people,” he said.
“The reason we are reporting back is we want the proper checks and balances because we respect our people.”
Labor MP Catherine King then questioned Mr Joyce about ongoing opposition to the net zero target from his National colleague, Matt Canavan.
Ms King highlighted comments made by Senator Canavan on Tuesday, which said the Coalition would have to “scrap” its net zero policy after the next election.
“Net zero is a commitment that is meant to last for 30 years … Why should anyone believe this slide show would last beyond the next election if the Coalition is re-elected?” she said.
Mr Joyce responded stating that while he had “interacted” with his fellow party member, Senator Canavan “did not actually write the (net zero) plan.”
“I’m glad the honourable member is fascinated, and I must say, she seems to be following Senator Canavan a lot closer than I am,” Mr Joyce said.
The deputy PM then concluded with a bizarre speech about the Coalition winning the next election, which was largely incoherent.
“We will make sure that in response of the question for the next 30 years we are blessed with the opportunity of running the place, and I hope we are, for the sake of Australians, that we will use the mechanism of believing in the intelligence of people and the inspirational people to achieve the outcomes that we have set out in the plan because it is only the other side that believes in legislating them out of a job,” Mr Joyce said.