Government ministers, like quiz contestants, have their special subjects, usually old foes who’ve fallen on hard political times.
That is, former Labor ministers.
Joe Hockey, for example, spends more of question time baiting long-term Labor treasurer Wayne Swan than his current direct opponent, Chris Bowen.
Hockey was at Swanee, as he likes to call him, and never mind the rule about referring to members by their title or electorate, for the umpteenth time on Tuesday.
The treasurer was actually delivering the ultimate insult on economist Michael Pascoe, who’d criticised some of the methodology in the government’s mid-year fiscal outlook.
“If you are taking economic lessons from Michael Pascoe I suggest you go back to Swanee,” Hockey said.
Malcolm Turnbull’s special subject is Stephen Conroy, Labor’s old NBN supremo.
Turnbull has invented Conrovia, Conroy’s personal universe of ego and unreality.
This conceit enables Turnbull to weave story after story of over-heated failure – the latest being the non-delivery of mobile services in Western Australia – into a Conrovian narrative.
Then there’s Peter Dutton who loves to get stuck into Tanya Plibersek, usually over the grandly promised but rarely delivered GP superclinics, even though she no longer has anything to do with health.
Dutton’s target often should be Plibersek’s predecessor as health minister, Nicola Roxon. But she’s retired and beyond the reach of parliamentary cruelty, so Plibersek has to cop it all.
Dutton, like Turnbull, went to the west for his examples of Labor failure.
Funny that. There must be an election coming up there.
In between we had countdowns, or countups.
Greg Hunt declared with gloomy defiance that the fight to control electricity prices goes on as, on day 106, the filibuster on repealing the carbon tax goes on in the Senate.
Then Scott Morrison proudly announced it was 89 days since the last successful people smuggling venture. This was hardly news as on Monday he’d declared it was 88 days.
You can expect regular updates on these figures, for at least as long as parliament sits.