Joyce returns $40,000 prize
BARNABY Joyce has returned a $40,000 award bestowed on him by mining magnate and cattle queen Gina Rinehart.
The Nationals leader and former agriculture minister formally declined the money – after initially accepting the cheque on stage at a gala celebration of the National Day of Agriculture last week.
The cheque will be returned to Hancock Prospecting, sponsors of the National Agriculture Day award.
It follows a public backlash to Mr Joyce’s receipt of the award.
Hancock Prospecting spokesman Adam Giles said the mining company alone sponsored the award, and defended the decision to award $40,000 to Mr Joyce.
In her speech, Mrs Rinehart singled out Mr Joyce as “a champion of our industry and our friend”.
“The agriculture industry was very fortunate to have had such a dedicated, understanding and enthusiastic minister, one with years of first-hand experience,” Ms Rinehart said.
MUTUAL RESPECT: Barnaby Joyce and Gina Rinehart embrace during the launch of a book by the latter in 2012.