Canberra is a strange town where often public displays of competitiveness are frequently at odds with the private reality of friendships that run across politics.
In some ways, there’s less competition between a Labor and a Liberal MP than there is between MPs from the same party. Over late nights, shared overseas trips, lengthy committee hearings, enduring the ardour of Chairman’s Lounge and Embassy drinkies, many unlikely mateships are formed.
One exception to this rule appears to be Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his opposite number Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull is not only critical of Rudd who he describes as “very undiplomatic”, “chilly”, “odd” and discourteous, he also rips into Mrs Rudd saying she has the “same attitude.”
He told the Courier-Mail:
“I have been in the same room as her but I don’t think I have ever had a conversation with her,” he said.
The Australian’s Mills and Boon author aspirant Christian Kerr described K-Rudd’s response:
“I think that is a matter for Mr Turnbull,” Mr Rudd said when pressed by reporters after attending church in Canberra.
He and Ms Rein held hands as he made his remarks, then put their arms around each other’s shoulders before walking to their car.
With the chocolate gelati hitting the fan this morning over the issue, Turnbull has denied attacking Therese Rein saying his comments were taken out of context:
“The suggestion that I had criticised or complained about Therese Rein was a complete invention,” Mr Turnbull told ABC Television Monday.
Mr Turnbull said he was asked by a reporter whether he and his wife Lucy had a social relationship with Mr Rudd and his wife Therese.
“And I said we didn’t,” he said.
“It was a factual answer to a straight-forward question.
“Now, to turn that into a criticism or a complaint was an outrageous piece of journalistic invention.”
If the PM was trying to play mind-games of the Beijing kind with Mr Turnbull, and nothing would surprise, he appears to have succeeded.