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People in glass houses

With the very real prospect of Tony Windsor challenging Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England, Joyce, in true Coalition style, has reached for the dirt file.

In an interview with ABC’s Radio National on Monday, Barnaby brought up Tony’s property dealings, implying that he had made a large personal profit from a policy he is now protesting against – coal mining on the Liverpool Plains.

Joyce pointed out there was an existing mine at Werris Creek that “was formerly owned by a person called Mr Windsor who made millions and millions of dollars out of the sale of it”.

“I think it’s just a little bit convenient when 30km away from one mine is another mine which Mr Windsor made himself a multi-millionaire out of,” he said. “Congratulations, that’s a commercial contract. The fact is that, basically it was a 99-year lease, Mr Windsor turned himself into a multi-millionaire, got the place back at a peppercorn lease rate and I think he got his neighbour’s place back at a peppercorn lease rate as well.”

Windsor has previously defended the sale of his family’s land to a Whitehaven subsidiary in 2010, explaining it was adjacent to a small existing mine and was not on the Liverpool Plains and did not have significant water resources underneath it.

“It was put in about 80 years ago,” he told 2GB in July. “They [the company] wanted to extend that mine … the farmer has no right over their land if in fact a natural resource is found. On a small portion of some country that we owned, it was found. They wanted to mine it. If, in fact, push came to shove, they would have mined it through the land and environment court. So there’s processes that override the landholder.”

Regarding the proposed Chinese owned Shenhua coal mine, Windsor said “I think it’s an atrocious decision, not because of agriculture but because of water. Here we have this magnificent piece of land, underlain with the biggest groundwater system in the Murray-Darling and they’re going to put that at risk because of the shonky arrangement that was put in place.”

In response to Joyce’s accusations on Monday, Windsor demanded an apology with a threat to sue if it was not forthcoming and a warning to get his facts straight.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And Barnaby is in no position to throw stones.

In 2006 and 2008, the Joyce’s bought two neighbouring properties totalling 2400 acres in the Pilliga. The locals couldn’t understand why because the land was no good for farming.

A successful farmer and exporter from a nearby area said of the Joyce’s purchase ”This is scalded country. It could not support the number of animals that would be needed to make a return on investment,” he says. ”It is a strange buy, put it that way.”

Rumours abounded.

One was that the land would have to be bought back to build the inland railway, which is a long-term infrastructure policy of the National Party.

The other theory among locals was that Joyce must have bought with plans to cash in on mineral wealth in the area.

Denis Todd, a farmer from nearby Baradine and a Warrumbungle Shire councillor, recalls a conversation he had with Joyce at a petrol station in about 2009.

”I asked him, ‘Why did you buy that mongrel country out there? You could have bought better grazing land closer to St George,”’ Todd says.

According to Todd, he asked Joyce if he had bought to take advantage of the coal known to run throughout the Pilliga. Todd says Joyce responded: ”The coal’s too deep but there’s plenty of gas there.”

In 2005, the year before the Joyce’s first acquisition, Eastern Star revealed it had already spent $50 million exploring the Pilliga, mainly around Narrabri, since 2001.

At a time when few people had even heard the term ”coal seam gas”, the company had plans for 1100 gas wells dotted across the Pilliga, feeding a $150-million pipeline to the Hunter Valley.

Joyce’s property at Gwabegar lies inside the ”petroleum exploration licence” (PEL) areas that Eastern Star – before it was sold to Santos – owned the right to explore.

By 2007 – between the first two purchases made by the Joyces – CSG companies were boasting of gas reserves to the east, west and south of the properties.

All indications at this time were that the gas rush was coming.

In October 2007, Eastern Star Gas Limited announced that the former deputy prime minister (but then still-serving MP) John Anderson had been appointed chairman of the company.

A former Nationals leader, Anderson is a political ally and personal friend of Joyce and was his campaign manager in his bid to win the seat of New England in the 2013 election.

Despite this close association, Joyce maintains he had ”no knowledge at all” that the Pilliga would be at the eye of the CSG rush when he bought his land.

Joyce has proposed that a landowner get 1 per cent of the well head revenue of a CSG well. The best performing well in Queensland produces $1 million a day but an average CSG well is worth about $60,000 a day. At that rate, a single well would earn a landholder more than $200,000 a year before tax.

National Party elders, including Anderson, have been criticised for aligning too closely with mining interests over the traditional farming constituency. Mark Vaile, who succeeded Anderson as National Party leader, became a chairman of Nathan Tinkler’s ill-fated Aston Resources when he left Parliament. Former NSW leader Ian Armstrong worked as a lobbyist for AGL.

When Joyce’s land was brought up after his previous attempt to smear Windsor before the 2013 election campaign, he replied ”I’m happy to sell it, it’s for sale.” Adding: ”If someone wants to take it off my hands and make a million dollars, go right ahead.”

Later, Joyce revealed that he had instructed a local land agent to sell if he can get the right price. He said he understood the ownership could be ”viewed as a conflict of interest”.

According to his latest statement of pecuniary interest, Joyce still owns the property.



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  1. M-R

    Far as I’m concerned, Tony Windsor will be merely the second truly admirable party politician if he stands and wins.

  2. Kaye Lee

    A lot of conservatives were very angry with him when he supported Gillard as opposed to Abbott but they fail to realise that he is a far better advocate for regional Australia when unconstrained by the Liberal Party. Farmers should be voting Green or independent if they have any sense.

  3. Loz

    The hypocrisy of Barnaby Joyce knows no bounds.

  4. Max Gross (@Max_Gross)

    It never ceases to amaze me how many blithering idiots there are in the so-called Coalition

  5. my say

    Come back tony Australia needs you, we need a voice

  6. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, that is an outstanding piece. Why are you not writing for the Guardian?

    More to the point, why do we not see this sort of reportage in the Murdoch tabloids.

  7. David

    Made my morning to see mere mention of Tony and Barnacle Joyce becomes a desperate, scared, blithering dirt bag. Well I should say is true to self as he turns to what he knows as a true blue Lib best, throwing dirt, innuendo and lies.
    A person with a semblance of nonce wouldn’t go there, against probably one of the most respected political individuals in the country, who has immediately threatened to sue over the lies.
    it’s a no contest and Joyce can see his political career in tatters if Tony Windsor runs. I will be donating to Tony’s campaign regardless of not being eligible to vote for him, it is so important to get him back into the HOR.
    I have posted Kaye Lee’s article to Twitter, it deserves 100% support of all social media, it needs to be read and Joyce exposed.

  8. Kaye Lee


    This article is mainly formed by putting together information from articles from sites like the Guardian. I have a good memory so just go back and find things I have read before and piece them together. I was interested to see if Barnaby still owned the land.

  9. Jexpat

    It’s difficult to underestimate how juvenile Barnaby can be.

  10. RosemaryJ36

    Tony Windsor for Prime Minister and Kaye Lee for his adviser on everything important!

  11. Zathras

    I’ve been expecting this for some time. I knew the Nats/Libs kept the Windsor mine sale up their sleeve as a potential smear but it seemed to evaporate once Windsor announced he was retiring from politics.

    The Pilliga story has been around for a while too, but Windsor also made an interesting speech in Parliament in 2013 asking why Gina Reinhart was bankrolling Joyce’s election campaign and how that may relate to Joyce’s tactic of delaying of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act that was before the Senate at that time – particularly the “water trigger” affecting the Liverpool Plains.

    The funding alone is something that belongs in a Federal ICAC investigation.

    Windsor knows a great deal about events surrounding his area and how Joyce fits into it all and really has nothing to lose.

    I would be very,very worried if I was Barnaby.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Tony Windsor wrote a book that contained the following excerpt…..

    “I raised the issue of the Armidale Hospital with Joyce, and whether he was on top of it. A twenty-first century hospital for a catchment of about 80,000 people was needed and the long term success of the medical school would depend on it. And then, without any shame, he said it.

    “You know Tony, until you had decided not to run, I had the money for the Armidale hospital, as well as the funding for the Legume to Woodenbong Road.”

    I was outraged. I sat there thinking this bloke is an idiot to tell me this. This is a classic example of why the Nats are a waste of space. Here they are back in business but even before they are elected the first thing they do is take the electorate for granted by withdrawing funding for vital projects because they think they have the seat in the bag. He said the decision had come from Abbott’s office. Everyone, other than four people, had thought I would contest the 2013 election. Barnaby’s leadership ambitions meant he wanted a lower house seat so he had decided on New England. And here was Barnaby, sitting there blithely telling me the consequences of that decision for the people of New England, as if in some way it was my fault for not standing.

    “When you were still the member and running” he said, “Abbott’s office said we could have a range of things, including $50 million for the hospital. But when you didn’t run they withdrew the money for the hospital and the road.””

    Two weeks before the book came out, Barnaby Joyce made the following announcement…..

    FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce has extended his congratulations to the Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall and the NSW Nationals for “delivering yet again”, with announcements of $90 million for hospital upgrades in Armidale and Inverell.

    Mike Baird bails the Feds out again.

  13. brickbob

    So Joyce is not only an idiot but like Abbott the biggesr liar un hung.”””

  14. paul walter

    Kaye Lee thanks for that. I’d say, you still have to have the wit to sort the wheat from the chaff.

  15. David

    @brickbob…you are on to it bob. Plus again, to add to the litany of lies so far, he was called again today in QT for misleading the House. Govt firewall went up immediately and Joel Fitz was refused permission to table the document indicating the deception. Joyce is a protected species however they can’t keep protecting him and sooner or later it will be one lie too many.
    He is also assisting Tony Windsors decision to return to politics, immensely.

  16. Terry2

    What massive cynicism from PM Abbott’s office and what stupidity from Joyce to let his electorate know the they had been duped out of a hospital.

    Barnaby needs to be very, very careful about what he implies about Windsor’s actions : the Hockey defamation case taught us that it is not the substance of what is written but the inference drawn by a casual observer from the – in this case – sound bite. What Joyce said on RN Breakfast yesterday implies that Windsor was less than hones and possibly committed a crime.

    I cannot see the government paying Joyce’s legal fees or any damages to Windsor without an enormous public outcry.

  17. lawrencewinder

    Sniff, sniff…. something rotten in the Pilliga? Sniff, sniff…. something corrupt in the Pilliga? Sniff, sniff…. something bent in the Joyce?
    Nice article.

  18. Geoff Andrews

    Barnaby Joyce is a highly intelligent professional – he’s an accountant – and not prone to just shooting his mouth off for effect. His command of the language & knowledge of the law would mean that he chose carefully the words he used on the ABC interview implying, very cleverly I thought, that Windsor was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg or at least a hypocrite and unworthy of an HOR future seat.
    If I was Barnaby’s Chief of Staff, I’d advise him to take a leaf out of Julia’s book and facebook Windsor: “Come on, Tony: bring – it – on!”

  19. diannaart

    I’d love to see that;

    Tony Windsor challenge Barnaby Joyce;

    a man who speaks sense challenge a man who speaks non-sense; a man whose business activities are genuinely transparent to a man who obfuscates; a man who understands growth to man who exploits fertile land for dead end-mining.

    However, the result is by no means clear, as I once would’ve believed.

    In Bizarro World everything is the opposite to reason, people who make their living through agriculture vote Nationals instead of Greens, people who paint others with their own guilt thinking they can hide it on someone else.

    Be good to see Joyce go, but won’t hold my breath.

  20. David

    Thanks for the laugh Geoff…..

  21. Kaye Lee

    Another thing….

    Media mogul Kerry Stokes, retail kings Brett Blundy and Gerry Harvey, mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest have all been quietly snapping up prime farmland

    Gina got in on dairy farms and then lo and behold….dairy are the big winners in the FTA. Now she’s decided to go into wagyu beef. Gina and Barnaby are very close.

  22. musicinhills

    Eastern Star revealed it had already spent $50 million exploring the Pilliga, mainly around Narrabri, since 2001. When i was working for exploring companies, the government always paid, i don’t think any thing would have changed,

  23. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Hopefully Gina understands that fracking and dairy don’t mix.

  24. Geoff Andrews

    Who’s laughing, David.
    I used to think Windsor was a top bloke until Barnaby convinced me otherwise the other morning when he spoke with such conviction & authority that any reasonable person would would come to the same conclusion as I did concerning Windsor’s ethics.

  25. horatio

    Geoff, are you for real?

  26. David

    Afraid Geoff, now you have made my night. My OH wants to know what the joke is?…I keep mumbling Geoff’s Barnacles, barmy barnacles…OMG I wish you woudn’t Geoff 🙂

  27. Geoff Andrews

    There are more things in heaven & earth, horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    There must be thousands of ABC listeners who, like me, have been profoundly influenced by a carefully crafted accusation by one of Australia’s most senior & well informed politicians against someone whose image before the accusation was impeccable. He must have the facts.
    I hope Barnaby has the bottle to call Windsor’s bluff and take the same set of notes to his next interview, hopefully with Allan Jones.

  28. Kaye Lee


    If you were unaware of Barnaby’s accusation then you weren’t following his original campaign for New England because he tried it then and was shot down in flames. You seem to ignore the facts in the article which makes me wonder. When you called Barnaby Joyce ‘is that the Chattanooga choo choo’ “one of Australia’s most senior & well informed politicians” I spat my drink. That made me realise you aren’t actually serious. Joyce has been in politics since 2005….Windsor since 1991. And if you think Alan Jones will defend CSG fracking I don’t think you are following what has been going on.

  29. Geoff Andrews

    David, it looks like it’s just you & me old son … back to back, shoulder to shoulder an’ all that.
    Kaye, you’ve got me banged to rights there guv’nor …. I didn’t make my feeble attempt at Socratic irony obvious enough but the thought of Tony relieving Joyce of a couple of hundred thousand was too delicious to resist … I think I would have made an excellent witness for the prosecution: read my lips.
    Ah, well, may as well try Andrew Bolt’s blog. Anyone got his address?
    (If I substituted “risible” for “senior & well informed” can I come back home?)

  30. paul walter

    Come off it, Geoff- he is an opportunist grub.

  31. Kaye Lee

    I think risible is an apt description. I do apologise for my lack of appreciation 🙂 The Abbott era made all irony seem feasible.

  32. Pappinbarra Fox

    Kaye, your comment at 10.36 is very insightful. What is the point of iony in an era where what was intended as irony could very well be the reality.

  33. Aortic

    Geoff, Barnaby Joyce is a highly intelligent individual, he’s an accountant I hate to tell you is an oxymoron.look it up son.

  34. randalstella

    Steady on, Major Artery!

  35. Adrianne Haddow

    Another example of our desperate need for a federal ICAC.
    Not just snouts in the trough, the coalition are in it up to their trotters.
    In their arrogance, these self serving pollies don’t even bother to hide their dodgy dealings anymore.
    Love your work, Kaye Lee.

  36. Geoff Andrews

    Dad? Dad ….is that really you? I’d recognise that punctuation anywhere and I can still hear that gruff “Look it up, son” from behind “The Australian” and a cloud of cigarette smoke when I’d ask you what an oxymoron was.
    Mum and me & the kids were initially a bit surprised when you didn’t come home that night 22 years ago and we always wondered if it really was just a coincidence that Mrs Richardson from next door went missing at the same time.
    But Mum seemed to recover pretty quickly – happy even – until she realised you’d cleaned out the joint account and transferred the mortgage from your investment property to the family home.
    I think the only person that misses you is your old mate,Mr Richardson: I don’t know how many times he’s told me how much he’d like to catch up with you again.
    Oh, and I still don’t know what an “oxymoron” is. I had to go to work after Grade 8 and you took the bloody dictionary.

  37. David

    That is sick Andrew, very disturbing.

  38. Geoff Andrews

    What was disturbingly sick, David?
    What? My reaction to Aortic’s patronising condescension? (That may be tautological, but it was worth repeating).
    If he’s going to address someone dismissively as “son”, he can hardly expect not be called “dad” and be cast in any scenario I might like to create with a tongue in cheek.
    I just hope that instead of being disturbed & sickened, he’s had a good laugh and re-read the whole thread knowing that instead of being a 35 year old drop out from Geelong Grammar living with my parents in Toorak, I’m a 75 year old (gidday dad; got the Queen’s letter yet?) well educated in the state school system (as we were in those days) socialistic, atheistic, cynical optimist …. oops! pick up that oxymoron, will you boy.
    I haven’t heard any news yet if Joh’s love child has apologised, so there’s still a chance that Kaye’s excellent article will be a blueprint for Tony’s silk.

  39. win jeavons

    keep the coal in the hole, the oil in the soil ,and the GAS UNDER GRASS !

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