Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched an extraordinary attack on Labor leader Bill Shorten, accusing him of being a "parasite" and "sycophant" who spends his time "blowing hard in the House of Representatives, sucking hard in the living rooms of Melbourne".
Towards the end of Wednesday's question time, Shorten tried to move a motion in parliament to condemn the PM over changes to family tax and childcare announced earlier in the day. In a rousing address, Shorten accused the government of "dishonesty", targeting families to boost budget savings, and criticised the government's handling of mistakes in the ongoing Centrelink automated debt recovery system.
Then Turnbull got his right of reply, and blasted Shorten in a long, uncharacteristically fiery address which included more than a few questionable references to sucking, blowing and Mexicans.
"There was never a union leader in Melbourne that tucked his knees under more billionaires tables than the Leader of the Opposition. He lapped it up, yes, he lapped it up. He was such a sycophant, a social-climbing sycophant if ever there was one," Turnbull roared.
"He likes harbourside mansions, he is yearning for one, he is yearning to get into Kirribilli House. Because somebody else pays for it. Just like he loved knocking back Dick Pratt's Cristal and looked forward to living at the expense of the taxpayer, this man is a parasite and has no respect for the taxpayer."
Some in the chamber groaned at the next zinger.
"They call themselves the Labor Party, well, Mr Speaker, manual labour is a Mexican bandit as far as they are concerned. Most of them have never done a day's work in their lives," Turnbull said.
To roars and laughs of approval from his backbench, Turnbull was in full flight, as his deputy PM Barnaby Joyce howled and turned gradually redder and redder from laughter.
"I think he just sucked up to them, you know. I think he did. I think he said one thing here and another thing in the comfortable lounge rooms of Melbourne, I reckon," Turnbull said. Then, in case someone didn't quite get the message, he repeated it soon after.
"[Shorten] has shifted and he will say whatever suits his purpose from day to day. No consistency, no integrity. This sycophant, blowing hard in the House of Representatives, sucking hard in the living rooms of Melbourne, what a hypocrite."
Turnbull's performance shocked observers and pundits, many of whom said this fiery side of the PM had been rarely seen since he took the top job in 2015.
His address ignited his backbench, sparking the usually quiet and reserved benches into action, laughter and desk-slapping mirth.
After a rotten start to the year -- where he lost a cabinet minister to an expenses scandal, lost Cory Bernardi to the Senate crossbench, endured more scandal over Centrelink and political donations and Donald Trump and the refugee deal -- it was the first sign of attack from the under-fire Turnbull.
If nothing else, it will give him confidence going toward the end of the first week of the parliamentary year.
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