Today in QT Malcolm Turnbull tried to see how many words starting with "R" he could get into one sentence, and the Government pretty much ignored him and instead attacked Peter Costello.
It must be incredibly frustrating for Turnbull, today the unemployment rate come out at 5.2%, and he couldn't lay a glove on Rudd. But then when framing questions with "the risk of a Rudd recession" or "the rising risk of a Rudd recession" just demand to be scorned and mocked.
Which Rudd did.
Rudd responded to the second alliterative question by saying "the Liberal Party focus groups have been at work". Obviously the Libs have decided "Rudd's recession" is catchy - probably in the way they thought saying "union bosses" in 2007 was a winner.
Most of the Liberal Party was in a pretty frustrated mood today. When Jenny Macklin had the hide to call them a bunch of "ambulance chasers", the points of order came thick and fast for a good 5 minutes, before Chris Pyne was finally kicked out for being... well probably just for being Chris Pyne.
The source of their frustration lay on the benches behind them. The Member for Higgins got more attention than Turnbull, as the ALP continued their tactic of blatantly referring to Costello as the opposition leader in waiting. Rudd at one point referred to him as "the next opposition leader".
Tony Burke told the house that everyone lay in wait to see if Turnbull could make it to May 25, because that was the date which would at least get him past Alexander Downer as the shortest time as opposition leader.
You think Turnbull likes that even such a comparison is being made?
Lindsay Tanner had fun acting as Treasurer while Wayne Swan was over at the G20 summit by quoting at length words Costello said in 2002 on the impact of the global economy on Australia - essentially that Australia can't avoid the impact - Tanner pointed out that Costello was saying that when world growth was about 2.6% and yet know he wants everyone to think it doesn't apply when world growth is less than zero.
And lo did the points of order come. Tanner then said to the Liberal Party that it was little wonder they didn't know what to think about Costello because he had known him longer than they had and even he had no idea. He then quickly got in a shot saying he and the Member for Melbourne Ports (Michael Danby) had long memories of Costello - they knew him when he was in the Labor ranks (as Costello's wikipedia entry proves).
Things got so bad for the Liberals that even Kate Ellis in answering a question about university fees was able to refer to Costello as he had made a speech on the Bill earlier in the day (which Ellis thought was rather quaint of him, given he spent most of the time talking about when he was at uni in 1975).
At this point Bronwyn Bishop had had enough and on a point of order said "if the answer to every question is Peter Costello..." The Government laughed some more and Ellis on coming back to the dispatch box even thanked "the Member for Mackeller for that.. err... contribution".
The very next question was from the independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor, who with a twinkle in his eye rose and said "My question is to Peter Costello...". The laughs from the government benches were loud and long, and Malcolm Turnbull sitting at the front of the opposition benches must have been thinking about giving Downer a call to ask how did he survive as leader for such a long time?
It's one thing to be for the Government to ridicule you, but when even the independents are doing, you know things are bad.