Kevin Rudd is as happy as a pig in mud. Wayne Swan is as happy as a goldfish in a blender. They’re the conclusions that can be drawn from the first Rudd Government Question Time.
Some things have changed dramatically. Bob Katter was actually in the chamber most of the time. Other things haven’t changed at all. Wilson Tuckey was thrown out.
Brendan Nelson started proceedings with a good populist piece on grocery prices, but Rudd easily swatted that away.
The PM’s first dixer was an easy job on this morning’s apology. Nelson came back with a rather odd question to Rudd on inflation. That was easy.
Arch Bevis asked him about East Timor.
Then Malcolm Turnbull put a question to Wayne Swan on wages and inflation.
As the former Treasurer, Peter Costello, went through a complicated series of movements involving his fingers, ears and face that strayed dangerously close to a YouTube favourite, the new boy got underway. And fluffed it. Completely. He was sat down by Mr Speaker. Heckled. Then caught out by the old favourite “Will the minister please table the document from which he was reading”.
Steve Georganas asked Julia Gillard about skills. She was cool and competent.
It was then the turn of the country cousins. Warren Truss asked Swan a question on the economic impact of cuts to Coalition rail spending plans. A sulky Swan flicked it to Infrastructure Minister Antony Albanese. Albo took it and ran – head down, slamming into the Nats.
Michael Danby offered Swan a chance to redeem himself with a question on challenges to the economy. Swan didn’t. He got the government and opposition confused. His boss, the PM, did the head-down ignoring everything act he used to do while copping heaps from Howard ministers in Question Time in his old job. The opposition yelled and yammered. Swan turned red and gently glowed for the rest of Question Time.
Julie Bishop asked him about jobs for the boys – was Steve Bracks really going to chair a review of the car industry for $10,000 a day. Swan said he could not confirm it, but made no denials.
Fortunately, that was it for him.
Sharon Bird asked Julia Gillard about IR. She gave an answer that was way too long, even without Wilson Tuckey’s little vaudeville turn. She also failed the “fulsome” test (it’s in the dictionary, Julia).
Tony Abbott asked Rudd about reporting on Indigenous program outcomes. The PM answered in fluent bureaucratese.
Catherine King asked Albo about infrastructure and productivity. Ea-sy.
Joe Hockey then asked the PM about his errant press secs and their misbehaviour during Brendan Nelson’s speech this morning. He got even more bureaucratic than before. His chief of staff – not him – has counselled them.
Maria Vamvakinou asked Tanya Plibersek about housing affordability. She responded with an old Howard government special of figures tailored to the questioner’s electorate for both mortgage and rental stress. There’s someone who’s got their department working well.
Abbott asked Jenny Macklin about the permit system. She told the House about everything else.
Then Jennie George asked Peter Garrett about whaling. He read beautifully from his notes. Question Time was as good as over.
Brendan Nelson tried two more. He wanted to know if the PM and his ministers would be in the chamber for Friday sittings. Kate Ellis got a dixer about yoof. Then Kelvin Thompson brought proceedings to an end with a question for Rudd on his election promises.
The PM gave us the story so far – a saga of 72 days of the Rudd Government.
No doubt it was a wonderful note for him to end on, but it wasn’t exactly a clincher.
There was no clear winner from Question Time. Only a loser. Wayne Swan.
Still, it’s early days yet.