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Fed: Turnbull dusts himself off and fights on

By Kate Hannon, National Political Editor
24 Jun 2009 7:11 PM

CANBERRA, June 24 AAP - The animosity between Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the parliament is palpable.

In the third day of its relentless shelling of a seemingly hapless opposition, Labor terrier Anthony Albanese declared the coalition was having "a shocker" of a week.

The opposition's ambitious attack, based on what turned out to be a fake email, calling for the resignation of the prime minister had crashed and burned, leaving many demoralised.

Yes, there were some misgivings within the coalition that perhaps they should have focused their attack solely on Treasurer Wayne Swan and the emails linking his office to a call for help to get finance by John Grant, an Ipswich car dealer and friend of Kevin Rudd.

But in the absence of a viable alternative, especially as Peter Costello has decided to quit politics, Turnbull is likely to be leader at the next election, due in late 2010.

Although there are some in the government who have high hopes that Tony Abbott might become a leadership challenger.

There has even been an outbreak of disunity during the week with a few opposition MPs voting with the government on alcopops and a migration detention bill.

Coupled with the decision to defer a vote - which could split the coalition - on the government's emissions trading legislation until August, the government was merciless in its conclusion that Turnbull had lost his authority as party leader.

But Turnbull was having none of it.

During what seemed to be a humiliating 90 minutes of a question time interrupted with attempts to move censure and gag motions, Turnbull continued to lead with his chin.

The government was running scared, he said, in its voting down of a judicial inquiry which was an attempt to protect Swan.

While Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Abbott took the fight up to the government, the silence of the opposition backbenches revealed the real truth.

His troops seemed listless at best, causing Albanese to observe that he had never heard a censure motion "greeted with such silence".

While they'll have to endure another day of abuse from the government, it's clear the coalition can't wait for week's end with that six-week break from parliament looking good.