Scott Morrison yesterday told Opposition MPs they were Muppets and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull didn’t stir.
It was business as messy and unedifying as usual in Question Time and Mr Turnbull was not visibly bothered.
Yet just a short time later he was earnestly preaching against the “shocking conduct” of sledging on the sporting field.
It was a stark demonstration by the Government’s captain that he could lecture the national cricket captain on standards of behaviours he didn’t require from his own side.
And we wonder why we are going through a period of confusion over sporting benchmarks. Check out the parliamentary role models.
If Malcolm Turnbull really wants to be captain/coach on sporting conduct he might start with his own ground rules.
“Alan has paid tax all of his life, you Muppet. He’s paid tax all of his life. Beaker over here …” said the Treasurer to Labor MPs yesterday, while discussing an individual’s superannuation.
It wasn’t all one-way. Labor’s Mike Kelly had to withdraw an interjection aimed at Mr Morrison. “Better take your medicine,” he said before being checked by Speaker Tony Smith.
None of which seemed to affect the Prime Minister.
That was at around 2.20pm. Just two hours later Mr Turnbull was thundering to reporters about cricketers’ performance.
“I think there has to be the strongest action taken against this practice of sledging. It has got right out of control, it should have no place in, on a cricket field,” he said.
And he continued: “I want to be very clear about this; the game of cricket should be one that once again is held up as a role model. I think that some of the sledging, some of the shocking conduct that we’ve seen, is also part of the process of review and reflection that’s going to be undertaken.”
But he did not seem keen to reflect on parliamentary conduct. Which makes his appeal for sterner sporting standards not only weak but hypocritical.
There was no prime ministerial public disciplining of Michaelia Cash when she sledged Labor by smearing all the young women in Bill Shorten’s office.
There was no Turnbull criticism of Peter Dutton when he sledged a small group sitting peacefully in the House of Representatives public gallery, because he believed they were union members.
And again it must be noted the Coalition does not have a monopoly on unbecoming comments.
As far as puppets go, former Labor Leader Mark Latham used to refer to red-headed National Peter McGauran as Howdy Doody.
And some of the sotto voce remarks from both sides would certainly qualify as “shocking conduct”. A former minister frequently, falsely accused Bill Shorten of an affair, using a tone he knew the Labor Leader could hear but not the parliamentary broadcast microphones.
It was like smearing a batsman’s wife from slips.
Not sporting at all, Prime Minister.