Barnaby visits the Lunatic, won't take pic in front of sign

LOOK, it's a bird, it's a plane - no it was just Barnaby Joyce landing in a helicopter behind the Lunatic Hotel to chat to Drake locals.

After hearing about the plight of the iconic pub through stories in The Northern Star, Mr Joyce decided to drop into the remote community in his electorate yesterday to see what he could do.

Lunatic Hotel owners Bob and Desley Kane have had the pub for sale for the past four years for $1.4 million and have decided to close the doors if it doesn't sell by the end of July.

Mrs Kane said it was wonderful to have Mr Joyce at the hotel again to rub shoulders with patrons.

Mr Joyce also went to Jubullum talking to the Aboriginal community there and going through some of the Green Army projects.

The Federal Agriculture Minister said he got a rousing reception from school kids, teachers and locals on his trip.

"We've been talking about the local blueberry industry, the timber industry, jobs, and mobile phone reception," Mr Joyce said.

"I'm finding out the issues in both communities that are similar, the issues you can talk to other ministers about and find where you can be of service."

Mr Joyce said he was extremely disappointed to hear about the hotel's possible closure.

"The pub is a great community service and a social hub of the community and I'll do what I can to support them," he said.

"Because if you don't have a social venue then you don't have a community.

"From what I've heard it's just an issue where people need to try a little bit harder to get along.

"One piece of advice I can give them is to keep it out of the public and try to work it out."

After chatting, Mr Joyce enjoyed a cold beer before flying back to Tamworth.

"I always try to have a beer after I speak, because if I have a beer before I speak I start saying what I think," he said.

"After I'm finished I'll have a beer and jump in the chopper and head off to fly over the blueberry farm."

Mr Joyce was careful not to repeat Prime Minster Tony Abbott's reject shop photo-bomb by having a photograph of himself taken near the Lunatic sign.

"I thought about that and the people who would love the idea of me instantaneously combusting would love that, and they would say it's a sign of not where I was, but who I am."



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