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Awkward: PM visits Victoria after youth crime outburst

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 17/01/2018 Andrew Lund

It was always going to be awkward, and boy was it awkward.

Malcolm Turnbull's first visit to Victoria since his New Year’s Day attack on the Andrews Government's approach to youth crime, saw him facing the cameras shoulder to shoulder with Acting Premier James Merlino.

Standing in the sun on the Geelong foreshore, both leaders insisted they didn't want things to be awkward, with the Prime Minister declaring there was "love bursting all over the place".

That love seemed to evaporate quickly as both men traded barbs over youth crime.

Mr Turnbull made an attempt at diplomacy, praising the work of Victoria Police in preventing potential terror attacks, but went on to take a swipe at the state government, declaring that for any government "public safety is the key".

The public spat culminated in James Merlino telling Mr Turnbull to get on the phone to "mobster's mate" Matthew Guy; before Federal Minister Social Services Minister Dan Tehan intervened and directed the Prime Minister to a question on his impending visit to Japan.

The feigned smiles and handshake at the end of the year's most awkward political media conference to date couldn't hide the animosity clearly simmering beneath the surface.

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