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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 524


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (13:45): Yesterday in this parliament we witnessed the return of what Annabel Crabb aptly noted as 'bad Malcolm' in her essay 'Stop at nothing' inQuarterly Essay. The man with a temper, who is vicious, bullying and with an habitual tone of bitter sarcasm, a man who feels himself superior to all around him.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister, under pressure from his coalition colleagues, launched an extraordinary personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition. Labor had spent question time asking about the issues that matter to the Australian public, issues like the future of family payments for millions of Australians and the Centrelink automated debt notice debacle. And how did the Prime Minister respond? By labelling the Leader of the Opposition a 'social climber'. The member for Reid explained this on Sky News by saying, 'Bill's a private school Melbourne boy, and we think he's professing to be something that he's not'. Well, I am a public school boy, and we know exactly what toffs and snobs mean when they say someone is a social climber. It means 'know your place'. It means 'do not rise above your station'. It is an ugly, demeaning, personal attack.

I say to those opposite: laugh all you like while you can, because we know, from experience, that when bad Malcolm emerges, when the Prime Minister is under pressure, that bad Malcolm has bad judgement. You can ask Godwin Grech how that pans out. As Jarvis Cocker said about another infamous social pretender: 'Well, I can't see anyone else smiling in here—are you sure…?'