Yeehaw! Costly cowboys’ Brissy muster

Jan 14, 2016Media Releases Parties

Cowboys may be known for their love of simple living, but the National Party’s courtship of foreign dignitaries is anything but frugal – with the party’s two most senior Ministers hoeing in to more than $11,000 worth of tucker and booze with their riding buddies during a four day event last year.

In answering a Parliamentary Question in Writing, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has revealed the extent of extravagance afforded to conduct the 2014 Indonesia-Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector talks in August last year.

A dinner for the Partnership’s two co-chairs ahead of the official event cost more than $400, and as the Indonesian delegates rode into town an official dinner to mark the occasion turned out to be more than just a billy over a campfire, with Mr Joyce billing taxpayers almost $7,000 for meals and beverages at the event.

The decadent hoedown continued when Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss rode in to town, swapping places with Barnaby Joyce to host lunch for senior officials the Royal Queensland Show – the Ekka – with a price tag of around $2,500. (No such luxury was afforded to the junior ranch hands in the group, with ordinary delegates sharing in a more modest $561 working lunch at the showground.)

Labor’s Waste Watch Committee Chairman, Pat Conroy, said questions should be asked about the Nationals’ hosting style.

“Waylon Jennings sang of cowboys preferring to give a song than diamonds or gold, but Barnaby Joyce and Warren Truss prove to be quite the opposite,” Mr Conroy said.

“Strengthening our ties with Indonesia is important, particularly through food security initiatives and cattle trade, but it certainly looks like these cowboys have whiskey taste on a sarsaparilla budget.”

“No wonder Ian MacFarlane wanted to join the Nationals!”