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Turnbull puts finger on parliament pulse

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Malcolm Turnbull has a new weapon - the index finger.

Having narrowly won the election eight weeks ago, the prime minister locked and loaded the finger for the first question time of the new parliament.

When Bill Shorten asked his first question - on why the government won't support a banking royal commission - it was aimed and fired.

"The reality is that this leader of the opposition has no interest whatever in any of the people that have been hard done by the banks - none at all," Turnbull shot back.

"He hasn't offered to recover $1 ... what he has offered to do is spend years and years and years on a lawyers' funding fest."

Queensland Liberal-National Party MP Ross Vasta was given the nod for the first government question of the term, allowing Turnbull to go into full Churchill mode to talk about the "moral challenge" of budget repair.

Again it was Shorten at the end of the finger, as the prime minister urged Labor to "stay true to their word" and back a bill that includes some budget savings the opposition took to the election.

The opposition leader returned to one of his favourite topics - Medicare - asking the prime minister which cuts he had reversed since the election.

Shorten would have known it was a red rag to a bull, having so effectively run the so-called Mediscare campaign - complete with phoney text messages - in the last two weeks of the poll.

The prime ministerial finger was once again unholstered, cocked and aimed.

"The leader of the opposition, in the course of this election, engaged in one of the most dishonest campaigns ever undertaken in an Australian election."

Treasurer Scott Morrison, known more for fist-pumping than finger-pointing, offered the PM an approving pat on the back, as he ducked Labor's attack on a black hole in his budget savings bill.

"This PM just won an election. I have got news for you - when the whistle has blown and you're on the wrong side of the scoreboard or the wrong side of this house, you lost the election, buddy."

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who prefers the karate chop, turned a question about the dairy industry into a jibe at Labor senator Sam Dastyari - describing a Chinese donation as a "novel form of crowd-funding".

Labor's best weapon was friendly-fire, with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen quoting back Tony Abbott to his successor.

"This is a government that is in office but not in power."

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