Kyle was being Kyle. But who was Barnaby? | radioinfo

Kyle was being Kyle. But who was Barnaby?

Monday 18 May, 2015
Comment from Peter Saxon

By all accounts, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, is a genuine character. More than most of his parliamentary colleagues he tends to tell the truth. He seems devoid of artifice. Yet, he could have used a little artifice last week when he infamously told Johnny Depp and his two Yorkshire Terriers to “bugger off” back to the U.S. after the dogs had been illegally smuggled in to Australia on Depp's private jet, flouting our strict quarantine laws.

The news has been flashed all over the world, particularly in America where the story has been used as a humorous distraction giving rise to an unofficial inter-network competition between writers to see who could come up with the corniest dog puns. 

In any case, in the States, it’s now yesterday’s news that’s wrapping today’s fish n’ fries.

Back in Australia, the reaction’s been mixed. While critics say that the incident shows us in a poor light - as a nation of yokels - others shake it off and say, ‘Yes, but in an authentic if quirky kind of way that just makes us look all that more endearing as a people to the Yanks.’

At the same time, in a humorous way - and we all know that humour works - the incident has managed to highlight the fact that Australia is serious about its quarantine laws.

In fact, you couldn’t pay to make a commercial like that. 

The creative storyline is quite sensible: International household name tries to smuggle pets into Australia and is caught by ever-vigilant (and impossibly good looking) Border Protection officers who inform said celeb that we can make no exceptions. Celeb is shown informative video of potential devastating consequences of his recklessness. Celeb is moved to tears and vows never to do it again and to dedicate his life to educating all his friends about stringent but necessary Australian Customs law. 

Who would you cast as the celebrity? Depp would be a great choice but I doubt you could pay him enough.

All in all, the whole thing is a storm in a teacup - of exactly the type that’s Kyle’s cup of tea. Although politics isn’t his strong suit in the way it is Alan Jones’, Barnaby Joyce’s intemperate comments about a high profile celebrity’s cute little puppies was an opportunity to good to ignore.

Of course, Kyle was always going to side with a celebrity over a politician - celebrities is what his show is about. 

More importantly, Kyle was absolutely correct. 

Contrary to some reports, Kyle made it clear that he had no problem with upholding quarantine laws. Depp needed to pay the appropriate price. His problem was with Mr Joyce who used language unbecoming a minister.

Here's some of the exchange between the two, starting with Kyle...

"Little bit overboard don't you think? Were you grandstanding here a bit? You and Johnny Depp having a big stand off, or do you regret that choice of words?"

"No I don't Kyle, that's the law," said Joyce.

"But why do you have to sound like such a hero on there? Like you're going to kill someone's dogs? A lot of dog lovers will be hating your guts right now!"

"That's the law mate, that's how it works!"

"What, the law is that you've got to act like an idiot and tell everyone you're going to kill someone's dogs? That's the law is it?"

Listen to the whole clip below.

In the heat of the argument, Mr Joyce quickly picked up on the irony of Kyle lecturing him on using intemperate language. But he missed the point. Kyle is a shock jock. That’s what he does for a living. His target audience expects him to behave exactly the way he did.

Barnaby Joyce is a Commonwealth Government minister. His target audience is not a niche but all Australians - the majority of whom would expect him to be more measured in his statements - especially since he represents all of us on the world stage.



 Peter Saxon

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