Maybe it was being kept in bushfire-induced nonpartisanship for so long, leading to a build up of tribal invective that just had to be released. Julia Gillard couldn’t help herself about Christopher Pyne in Question Time yesterday.

In a choice between macho and mincing, I would have gone for macho myself, and obviously the Leader of the Opposition, faced with the choice of a doberman or poodle, has gone for the poodle. Presumably he prefers Abba to Cold Chisel, because that is the kind of thing we see on display.

“Mincing.” You’re all class, DPM. What next — pooftah jokes?

The favourable object of comparison in that remark, Tony Abbott, must have beamed. He returned the compliment this morning. “Thank God, you’ve got Gillard there who is a fine parliamentarian to liven up the awful performances of the Labor Party,” he enthused. Tony’s a man of strong emotions, and a declaration of love for the Power Fox might not be far away.

In comparison, Kevin Rudd is, Abbott says, a “toxic bore” and the worst parliamentarian as Prime Minister since William “I strongly recommend Australian Property Truss” McMahon.

Goodness. No wonder Lady Sonia’s in hospital.

Gillard’s goat had presumably been got earlier in proceedings by Pyne, who in his new role as Manager of Opposition Business was making like that old pope joke about “looking busy” (Cleric runs into the Pope’s room at the Vatican. “Your Holiness, Jesus has returned! He is down in St Peter’s Square on a donkey right now! What do we do?” Pope, after a long pause: “look busy”.) During an Anthony Albanese answer on the bushfires and floods, he had remonstrated about its length, which confirmed that the spirit of bipartisanship engendered by Fran Bailey’s teary speech about the bushfires that had kicked proceedings off was well and truly over.

Like little kids kept inside because of the rain, the enforced peace and friendliness of the past two weeks has obviously made MPs frustrated and antsy. The Opposition, keen to demonstrate they weren’t a total rabble, tried to look like they’d come with their game faces on to Question Time. Even Rob Oakeshott got in on the act, earning his first warning from the speaker for an excited interjection.

As always, Kevin Rudd is magnificently above it all, uniquely talented in his capacity to bore for Australia and, in fact, the world, in the unlikely event aliens ever land and challenge us to a tedium competition with our survival at stake. He and Penny Wong, whose Mogadon-like tones have been ubiquitous, or at least around quite a lot, in the last two days, would be my first picks for the World Bore-off. In Wong’s case it sounds natural. In Rudd’s case, he appears to have worked assiduously to remove every trace of unpredictability and humanity from his make-up as weaknesses to be extirpated in his quest for glory.

There’s the occasional talk about Julia Gillard’s potential for threatening Rudd. This misses that they are wholly complementary. Fire and ice, logic and emotion, Spock and McCoy, strategist and pugilist, pick your cliché. On the basis of today’s Newspoll, which cements the Coalition’s truly abysmal levels of support, they’ll be around for as long as they can stand each other.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off