What a Labor MP learnt from Barnaby’s book

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Mr Joyce pushing a strictly ‘white’ rural identity in his book is a concern for Labor MP Tim Watts.A Labor backbencher wants Australians to take Barnaby Joyce’s new book seriously.
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Opposition MP Tim Watts has launched a lengthy analysis on Twitter of the former deputy prime minister’s memoir, concluding with a stark warning.

“After reading it, I feel like Australian politics needs to take Barnaby more seriously. Really,” Mr Watts tweeted, as parliament returned on Monday.

“(Barnaby’s) now practicing text book populism through a prism of race.”

Mr Joyce’s memoir, Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, The Bush and Me, was launched last week.

It canvasses the former deputy prime minister’s views from the breakdown of his marriage and relegation to the backbench to conditions in rural Australia.

But according to Mr Watts it also reveals a strain of populism that rings of Pauline Hanson’s politics.

“The recurring message of the book is that there’s a group of people in Canberra, including in the Liberal party, determining outcomes against the interests of ‘the poor white person of the inland’ or ‘the poor white town’ or the ‘poor white village’ or a ‘white tribe’,” Watts tweeted.

Watts acknowledges that most regional areas are “absolutely disadvantaged,” but argues Joyce could have left the critique as city versus country.

“The echoes of Hanson are clear,” he tweets.

“It’s notable that a former deputy prime minister is now using this language from ‘inside the tent’ relatively speaking.”

Barnaby Joyce doesn’t vilify or disparage non-white groups in his book, Watts notes.

But his decision to repeatedly push a strictly “white” rural identity (“a white tribe from a small country village”) is cause for concern.

“I reckon it’s worth worrying about where this path could lead us as a nation,” Watts sums up.

“So I guess I’m saying buy this book?”

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