In terms of political embarrassments, it doesn't come much worse than yesterday for Labor. After the bluster and high dudgeon of Monday's question time, in which ministers were put on the spot by Labor to repeat their denials of bribing people smugglers, yesterday Labor was schtum on the subject in the House. Not a word. The only questions asked about people smuggling and bribery were by the government, mocking the transformation of Labor's prosecutorial venom into humiliated silence.

The result, of course, of the reports that bribes to people smugglers had been paid under Labor as well.