What a miserable week in a thoroughly shitty political year. And it's only March.

The government wanted this week to be all about Bill Shorten's "character". As the Coalition's shell-shocked troops returned to Canberra to contemplate how badly a "good" (i.e. not marked by any debacles) start to the year had been fried in the nuclear explosion of Barnaby Joyce's ego, the idea was to go on the offensive by focusing on Shorten. The Opposition leader "didn't have the character to lead either at home or abroad”, Julie Bishop told the joint partyroom meeting on Tuesday. "He has no shame, no principle, no character," Malcolm Turnbull said in Question Time that day. Peter Dutton went further a few questions later.