IT WAS the second anniversary of Julia Gillard's famous promise that no government she led would introduce a carbon tax, and Tony Abbott was not about to let that pass without a celebratory bout of denunciation.
He did not calculate, however, on the independent warhorse Tony Windsor dumping a bucket of fermented recollection upon his merriment.
Hardly had Abbott finished a tirade concerning the numerous reasons why Ms Gillard should apologise to the Australian people for leading them up the carbon path than Windsor, quivering with indignation, arose from his crossbench, intent on burying Abbott in his own temerity.
Outraged independent MP Tony Windsor flays Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in Parliament yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares
''There's been a lot of discussion today about history,'' he began. ''This is a hung Parliament. The decision to do something about climate change … to put a price on carbon, was a condition of the formation of government.
''The Leader of the Opposition knows that very well, because on a number of occasions, he actually begged for the [prime ministerial] job. Begged for the job. You've never denied that, Tony, and you won't.
''He begged for the job, and he made the point, not only to me but to others who were in that negotiating period, that he would do anything to get that job. Anything to get that job.
''You would well remember, and your colleagues should be aware, that the only codicil you put on that was, 'I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won't do is sell my arse'.''
The House of Representatives dissolved into a tumult of whoops and guffaws from the government benches, where the word ''arse'' had apparently never previously passed a lip, and howling indignation from the opposition side.
But Windsor was simply building to his climax.
Abbott, he accused, was so desperate he would have agreed to put in place an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax … if he had been asked. ''The fact that he wasn't asked is something of very, very good judgment, in my view. I'm very proud to have supported the price on carbon, I'm very proud to have supported doing something about climate change, and I think history will judge those who have had the guts to stand up and actually try and address what is a very difficult issue in a difficult Parliament.
''This man, the Leader of the Opposition, would have been quite prepared to do that if he'd been given the nod.
''You're an absolute disgrace,'' he roared at Abbott, ''in the way in which you're wandering around on this issue.''
Abbott later protested that there were plenty of things he would not have done to become prime minister, and one of them was that he would never have broken his pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax. Not like that dreadful Ms Gillard.
By then, however, the steam had quite gone out of the festivities he had planned to mark the second anniversary of the Prime Minister's abiding discomfiture.
Tony Windsor, the old National Party man gone feral, sat down, looking perfectly content that he had wrecked Tony Abbott's party. Again.