He's 'very cocky'
Prime Minister Tony Abbott responds to Bill Shorten's suggestion that Mr Abbott would be a one-term prime minister.PT0M0S 620 349
For those of us doing relaxing summery things like watching tennis, the return of national politics may feel a tad premature.
Still, the overlap brings to mind the to-and-fro exchanges of the otherwise more entertaining action on Rod Laver Arena.
Bill Shorten says Tony Abbott could be a "oncer" as Prime Minister.
Abbott responds to the taunt with a crisp volley, branding Shorten "cocky".
It was probably Abbott who lost the point, to strain the tennis analogy further.
Why? Because of the two, it was he who departed furthest from his game-plan - in this case, building a reputation as a statesman and as a prime minister.
Strutting the world stage in the Swiss resort town of Davos, Abbott need not have taken the domestic Shorten bait at all.
He could have either brushed the "oncer" comment away with a simple "no comment" or perhaps even agreed in a qualified fashion, arguing as he so often used to, that winning elections is never guaranteed.
Instead, in the instant of his tit-for-tat reflex, Abbott revealed the distance he has to go to grow into the role as PM.
The episode is of no substantive import except inasmuch as in what it tells us about the Abbott journey.
Critics, including some on his own side have seen him as not so much growing in the role as shrinking.
Time of course is on his side, and it is likely Abbott will find his form soon enough.
Shorten has the much harder task - especially if he is to sell the oil-and-water proposition that he is positive and constructive, while attacking Abbott personally and misrepresenting initiatives like the government's welfare review as an attack on the aged pension.
Rightly or wrongly, the pension has been specifically left out of the review.
Shorten is correct however in observing the Coalition could be a one-term show. All first-term governments are vulnerable and this one is already behind.
Besides, such positive thinking is entirely necessary for the Labor opposition to adopt.
Many remember Kim Beazley's "two-term" strategy to regain office after the 1996 loss - a plan that some say effectively conceded the 1998 election fight even before it was contested.
Returning to the tennis comparison, Shorten's protection from internal challenge should allow him to swing more freely than most.
But with a couple of sets already in the bag, it is Abbott PM who should be dictating the terms of this match.
And to do that, he must resist the instinct to play the challenger's game.