Instead of making a controlled announcement about his marital circumstances and the pregnancy with his staffer, before facing voters at the unexpected by-election in December brought on by his dual citizenship, Barnaby Joyce chose to keep it a secret. Some in the government and the wider coalition parties are asking why there was no plan to deal with any of this in a way that did not turn it into a rolling political catastrophe.

Regardless of his robust defence, some senior government sources believe Joyce cannot recover and will have to be replaced. “One way or another, Barnaby’s cactus,” one tells Karen Middleton. “It’s just a matter of when.”

Plus: Paul Bongiorno on how Joyce is exposing Malcolm Turnbull’s greatest weaknesses, Claire G. Coleman on the failures of Closing the Gap, and Mike Seccombe on how Scott Morrison made Donald Trump his political hero.

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The Saturday Paper