VIDEO: How a Nimbin hippie crashed the PM’s party
HEMP Party president Michael Balderstone knows exactly how to attract the whimsical interest of the national media spotlight when given half a chance.
He did that on Friday when after fronting up to a highly controlled election announcement planned by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he confronted Deputy PM and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce over cannabis law reform.
The tenacious cannabis campaigner and HEMP Party Senate candidate for WA didn't quite get the chance to shirtfront Turnbull, who arrived conviently late, so Joyce had to do.
But the fact Mr Balderstone had advance knowledge of the top secret location and had the temerity to turn up put him in a class of his own.
In the minute he had before being led away by sunglassed and earpieced security guards, he managed to compel the full attention of the army of TV camera men and iPhone wielding journos.
He told an unperturbed Mr Joyce there were "100,000 jobs ready to go" if the Federal Government taxed and regulated medical cannabis but acknowledged the presence of "international treaties" stopping it.
Mr Joyce replied: "But we (already) have actually, we are legislating for medicinal cannabis."
Page MP Kevin Hogan told Mr Balderstone he had previously announced the legislative changes in an article in the Nimbin Good Times printed a few months ago.
But Mr Balderstone said the trials process in NSW was too strictly regulated and that he was still a "criminal" for using it.
"Do you want it for medicinal reasons or recreational reasons?" Mr Joyce funnily asked. "What are you treating for your cannabis?"
Mr Balderstone: "Me, I'd say post-traumatic stress. I was a 10-year-old at boarding school, and cannabis has probably helped me heaps to recover from that."
While being led out by the security guards, Mr Balderstone gave a serve to the national media for not making it more of an issue.
He said the HEMP Party's had to run candidates in every state to get the cannabis issue on the agenda.
"This is the big elephant in the room, I reckon."
Then as if by magic, the PM's convoy rocked up within a few seconds of Mr Balderstone's departure, and the media pack moved on.