Parliament's grumpiest and most disagreeable Prime Minister in the past 40 years was asked after he was defeated as National's leader whether he was going to be a thorn in new leader Jim McLay's side. Rob Muldoon's incredible cheek crinkled and he smirked: "More like a little prick."

And that he was, McLay never went on to fight an election.

It's the cut and thrust of politics and few survive at the top unscathed. That's certainly the case across the Tasman where the smarmy Malcolm Turnbull will now be reading between the lines - and there have been plenty of them in the lead up to the caucus spill on his leadership.


The man who's seen across the ditch as a native hardwood Peter Dutton was mouthing what Muldoon used to call politicians' weasel words, pledging his blinding loyalty to his leader just three days ago.

"Just to make is very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government. My position hasn't changed," he oozed in a tweet.

He certainly had Turnbull convinced, who confirmed a day before the spill that Dutton was a member of the team and that he'd given him his absolute support.

But then away from the public glare they got together and afterwards Turnbull put it to the vote and won - but in doing so showed the nation how divided his party is.

Dutton headed to the back benches with his chameleon's tail between his legs but it won't be long before he again shows his true colours - and it's not only Turnbull who should be worried, given that he declined an offer to stay in Cabinet, it's this country if he's successful.

The former Home Affairs Minister's been trying to turn New Zealand into the penal colony that Australia once was with his deportation of so-called Kiwi criminals. He takes no responsibility for the criminality Australia's taught them, nor does he have any regard for the safety of citizens in this country, simply saying the deportees are a danger to Australians.

This former Queensland cop obviously sees it as a one-way relationship, reminding us there's a lot they do for us and telling us we should be reflecting on the relationship between Australia and New Zealand where they do a lot of the heavy lifting.

The leadership in Australia has become a toxic waste dump, in recent years with the seesawing between the self-obsessed Tony Abbott and Turnbull and now with Dutton scheming away in Queensland.


Julie Bishop, whose also had a go at Labour here for meddling in their domestic affairs and saying she'd find it hard to trust them, could nevertheless be our best hope. They've since had a mea culpa from Jacinda Ardern which Bishop's accepted. She's meeting in Canberra today with the old charmer Winston Peters.

The timing is a little unfortunate though, given that she'll have other things on her mind and it's a safe bet, leadership will be one of them.