“He doesn’t have a fair dinkum bone in him,” the prime minister told reporters at Parliament House on Thursday – a day after unleashing a parliamentary tirade on the Opposition Leader.
“He wants to play the man of envy but he’s been a sycophant.”
Shorten did not have the character to be prime minister and lacked the integrity to lead the Labor Party, Turnbull said.
“I don’t think sucking up to billionaires saying one thing in the well-upholstered living rooms of Melbourne to powerful captains of industry and another thing on the hustings is what aspirational Australia is about.”
The prime minister’s initial attack has won favour with his coalition MPs and some cross benchers.
“It reminded me of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech. It was up there,” crossbench senator Nick Xenophon told reporters.
“I’m sure it’s going to go viral if it hasn’t already.”
Labor MPs, unsurprisingly, had a different view.
“We saw the big dummy spit as the silver spoon got spat across the dispatch box when he was questioned about his attack on families,” opposition backbencher Rob Mitchell said.
“What we’ve seen is a prime minister who said to Australians yesterday if you’re not a billionaire you’re not worth shit.”
Independent senator Derryn Hinch thinks such attacks do go down well.
“Paul Keating turned it into an art form and Gough Whitlam was pretty good at it too,” he told ABC radio.
But crossbench colleague David Leyonhjelm suggested the prime minister only repeat the exercise every now and again.
“Letting the Malcolm beast loose sort of reassures his supporters at least there is a Malcolm beast,” he said.
“And those who are persuaded by a bit of beast it won’t do any harm.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce thoroughly enjoyed Turnbull’s performance, taking a dig at Mr Shorten latching onto the “Mr Harbourside Mansion” jibe at the prime minister.
If he had a choice between someone running the country with “the arse out of their pants who has never made a buck” or someone who had actually got ahead, he’d back the latter.
“We’re not going to have Mr Shorten going out there, bucketing on us and just keep on taking it on the chin everyday,” Joyce said.
Labor senator Sam Dastyari coined it the “know-your-place speech”.
“You have Lord Turnbull of Wentworth sitting there and dictating to everybody else,” told reporters, adding the prime minister was obsessed with Mr Shorten when he should be passionate about education and schools.
“What’s happening with Malcolm here is starting to get a little bit freaky.”
Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen suggested Turnbull’s “shrill rant” was aimed at shoring up support among his own MPs for a few days.
“If that’s what the prime minister needs, well good luck to him,” the shadow treasurer said, noting the debate was about a whether a million families should have their Family Tax Benefit cut.
Shorten has brushed off the barbs, saying he felt sorry for the prime minister.
“The drums are beating in the corridors of Canberra about whether or not he will remain as Liberal leader and I think he is showing pressure,” he said.
– AAPJump to next article