"Ten-flag Tony", Prime Minister Abbott was dubbed, as the number of flags behind him at his ever-proliferating number of national security announcements grew and grew; journalists began making bets on how many would be wheeled in ahead of every media conference. The urbane Malcolm Turnbull was better than that, of course -- the man who as a minister dismissed claims from his colleagues George Brandis and Julie Bishop that Islamic State was an "existential threat", the man who seemed too worldly, too self-aware, to rely on crass jingoism to bolster his flailing government.
Yesterday, though, Turnbull out-flagged Abbott, comprehensively. Instead of pole after pole of flags, neatly arrayed behind him, Turnbull announced that the government would be making it easier to call out the military for domestic terrorism incidents at what looked for all the world like a Call of Duty convention, with gas-masked soldiers, an assortment of rifles and other military paraphernalia, including an assault vessel -- any terrorist incidents on our waterways, presumably, would be dealt with vigorously.
It was absurdly over the top, childishly so; Abbott's flags looked subtle in comparison.