Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Mark Knight reveals why MP Barnaby Joyce crying poor was a bit rich and a cartoonist’s dream

Mark Knight, August 1, 2019 6:45PM Herald Sun

Print Article

Barnaby Joyce with his newborn son and new partner Vikki Campion. Picture: Channel 9 media_cameraBarnaby Joyce with his newborn son and new partner Vikki Campion. Picture: Channel 9


Reading level: green

When it comes to drawing cartoons about politicians, I find there are two types.

The first group are politicians that I may occasionally* draw when they do something newsworthy*.

The second group are politicians that are walking cartoons just begging to be drawn!

Barnaby Joyce fits the second category. I would easily describe him as a cartoonist’s dream.

Mark Knight's cartoon on Barnaby Joyce crying poor on $200K a year media_cameraMark Knight’s cartoon on Barnaby Joyce crying poor on $200K a year

He is known as one of the best “retail” politicians going around because he connects well with the everyday voter. Also, in this age of media managed pollie-speak* Members of Parliament, Barnaby Joyce is a politician that usually says what’s on his mind.

That’s good for cartoonists!

So when Mr Joyce came out this week as part of his campaign to raise the Newstart dole* allowance and said that he understood the issue because was struggling to provide for two families on his MP salary of more than $200,000, it got my attention.

The angle to this cartoon was a former deputy Prime Minister crying poor. For me, the immediate thought was the humorous image of one of our leading backbench* MPs begging in the street, holding his two babies from his newest relationship with a former employee to gain sympathy from people passing by.

Aust politician Senator Barnaby Joyce 19 Oct 2004.  election hat media_cameraAustralian MP Barnaby Joyce in his trademark hat.

This idea developed further when I started to draw Mr Joyce as I do in his rural* squatter’s* clothing — the tweed jacket, moleskin pants and RM Williams boots.

However, the main item of clothing Barnaby is famous for is the large Akubra hat he wears. It is a prop that defines his “bush credentials*”. During the election campaign it was on his head in every interview and photograph of him.

And now the hat would be the punchline* in my cartoon.

As we know, people begging on the street will place a hat on the ground in front of them to receive money. And so I placed Barnaby’s huge Akubra on the ground in front of him, its size exaggerated for effect, some coins and notes in it, with a passer-by noting, “That explains the big hat”.

His hat was serving him again, but in a very different role than usual.


  • occasionally: sometimes
  • newsworthy: interesting or important enough to make the news
  • pollie-speak: speaking like a politician
  • dole: money paid by the government to the unemployed
  • backbench: MP who is not in charge of a portfolio such as health or transport etc
  • rural: from the country
  • squatter: sheep or cattle farmer
  • bush credentials: experience about life in the bush
  • punchline: final part of a joke or story which provides the humour


Why Mack’s small gesture had a giant impact

What do Donald Trump and the moon landing have in common?

‘Canberra bubble’ the word of the year


  1. Who does Mark Knight describe as a cartoonist’s dream?
  2. What leadership title did Barnaby Joyce use to have?
  3. How much money does Barnaby Joyce earn each year?
  4. What brand of hat does he wear?
  5. What is Newstart?


1. Caption it!
Cartoonists such as Mark Knight are so skilled they can convey a lot of complex information in one or a series of drawings without the need for many or any words.

However, Mark’s cartoon was drawn with an adult audience in mind and he knows that most people who look at it will also have read and watched a lot of news stories about Barnaby Joyce’s comments on not being able to support his two families on $200,000 a year. People look at his cartoon with the help of a lot of background knowledge.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you write a caption for the cartoon or a second thought bubble or quotes from the people in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  1. What is my subject?
  2. What do I want to say about this issue?
  3. How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else.), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Barnaby Joyce says $200,000 a year is not enough to support both his families? What do you think?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in news