In politics, words are bullets. You don’t spray them around randomly. You use them well. You pick your target carefully – then fire off your ammo with precision. No wonder the PM kept his head down when Wayne Swan was at the dispatch box yesterday. It was like hunting with Dick Cheney.

Treasurers simply can’t send shots ricocheting round the chamber. They have to make sure they hit their targets. After all, the markets are watching them. Paul Keating learned to hold his fire after the banana republic comments pushed the dollar down.

Saul Eslake as good as admitted just last month that Peter Costello kept the banks from moving on rates with a few well directed shots over their heads. All eyes will be on Wayne Swan in Question Time today. If he misfires again, people could get hurt. People on his own side.

Swan, of course, is not the only parliamentarian settling into his new role. Crikey understands that Julie Bishop’s question to him on Steve Bracks’ lucrative car consultancy was Malcolm Turnbull’s. The deputy opposition leader was a little short of Question Time ideas.

And there appear to be some quibbles about how Joe Hockey will perform as manager of opposition business. He manages to be tough without coming over like a bovver boy – but some Libs wonder if he has quite the eye for detail to make the most of the job.

Hockey may have only be following orders, but they wonder what he achieved by making the Parliament sit to two in the morning on the very first day back.

Peter Fray

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