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Catholic politician completes Howard's Senate majority

Barnaby Joyce, a practising Catholic and Nationals politician who describes himself as right-wing on social issues and left on economics, yesterday secured a Senate majority for the Coalition Government, with the announcement of his election as a Senator for Queensland.

He told ABC Radio's PM program that he went to Mass yesterday morning and prayed for acceptance of whatever result was announced.

"I just said you know whatever happens I've got to accept it basically," he said. "Look, becoming a Senator is great, but there are far more pressing things in the world I'm sure that the Almighty is worried about rather than senators in Queensland."

According to a report in The Age today, he is firmly anti-abortion, but "not out to demonise women who have abortions".

"One hundred thousand abortions a year is wrong - let's work out how we can fix that," he said.

"I am philosophically opposed to it (Medicare funding of abortions), but there are two things at play. People's taxes are going towards something they feel is wrong, but we don't want people to be putting themselves at medical risk."

Mr Joyce, a 37-year-old father of four girls from St George in western Queensland. He grew up in the New England region of NSW and went to boarding school at the Jesuits' St Ignatius College, Riverview. Since moving to St George, he has been closely involved with the St Vincent De Paul society, becoming President of the local branch (1998-2004).

He has his own radical ideas in social and economic policy, including tax breaks for those living in poorer regions.

"I'm an ardent supporter of zonal taxation," he said. "If they don't generate much income, why not cap the tax - it gets people off the coast and you can't keep pouring people into the same areas and expect resources like water won't be a problem - let's give people a reason to move inland."

Research from Jesuit Social Services has demonstrated that poverty can now be measured by location, and that there are significant pockets of poverty in some regional areas.

John Howard? He'll have to call back (The Age 29/10/04)
Barnaby Joyce speaks about his new position (ABC Radio PM 28/10/04)

PM's clean sweep: Senate control (Sydney Morning Herald 29/10/04)
Ron Boswell claims National Party comeback after Joyce victory (ABC Radio The World Today 28/10/04)
Editorial: A once in a generation opportunity (The Australian 29/10/04)
Editorial: Senate control and its consequences (The Age 29/10/04)
Politicians count blessings (Catholic Leader 17/10/04)
The Nationals | Nationals Secure Senate Power for Govt | Barnaby Joyce wins vital seat for Coalition | Profile
Priest says poverty increasing in rural and regional Australia (CathNews 21/10/04)

29 Oct 2004