Malcolm Turnbull has used all of his oratorical might to rip into Fraser MP Andrew Leigh, saying the Canberra politician has had electrodes attached to his head in an attempt to make him stupid all the time.
The Communications Minister, on the back of a dorothy dixer in the House of Representatives, was outlining the value for money of the Coalition's broadband rollout compared to the Labor Party's effort which he said was done "on the back of a beer coaster on a VIP flight from Sydney to Brisbane".
"We know that a Conrovian fog has fallen over the Labor Party, which prevents them from acting in a rational manner," Mr Turnbull said, with the term "Conrovian" being a favourite label to refer to thinking linked with Senator Stephen Conroy.
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
"It causes them to deny budget realities, the consequences of their wastefulness, the $667 billion of debt we were headed to without any change."
Mr Turnbull then said the fog sometimes breaks and that "I come not to embarrass honourable member for Fraser [Mr Leigh] but to praise him.
"For I'm very concerned, as we all are, that the Conrovian nonsense that he's forced to spill out occasionally nowadays will live after him but the wisdom and economic rationalist will be buried in his bones unless we draw people's attention to it.
"You can imagine the thought reform the member for Fraser's had to have.
"You can imagine the electrodes going on to him, to stop him being rational, as they give him another jolt.
"You can imagine him coming out of the bunker, shaking and spouting nonsense about no budget crisis.
"Imagine the electricity bill of that exercise, imagine the carbon emissions, it's extraordinarily wasteful.
"But every now and then, you see it's very hard to cause somebody who is highly intelligent to be stupid all the time, it really is.
"Even the Labor party is unable to do that. And we know they regret it. You can imagine them saying 'if only we'd got him from the AWU [Australian Workers Union], not the ANU [Australian National University].
"It was only a couple of weeks ago he said on the radio here in Canberra: 'I think infrastructure is a good thing, but I do see a risk they are returning to the old pork barreling model in which you don't do proper cost-benefit analysis'.
"What model was that? That was the Conrovian model. I could understand why you'd be apprehensive. If I hung around the people you do, I'd be very worried about that sort of thing."
In response, Mr Leigh said: "Like Malcolm Turnbull, I look forward to seeing the cost-benefit analysis for the Liberal Party's Direct Action scheme, their fig leaf for failing to take real action on climate change."