Painful trap could snare MP
Labor is convinced Energy and Emissions Minister Angus Taylor has fallen into one of the more painful traps that can snare an MP.
It snaps shut when, instead of staying quiet, they demonstrate to all that their own estimation of ability doesn't match reality.
And the Opposition believes Mr Taylor, for the first four sitting days since the election, had been thrashing around in this trap - essentially writing performance cheques he couldn't cash.
Today the pursuit of Mr Taylor was suspended as the Opposition took up the distress called by robocalls on welfare recipients and other matters.
This would have been fleeting joy for Mr Taylor, whose standing has been damaged even though no distinct allegations of misconduct have been laid, let alone proved.
For the moment at least, the Liberal, who has believed his talents could take him to the leadership should the opportunity arise, is now stuck in the rear-view mirrors of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Attorney-General Christian Porter.
At issue is a meeting he requested in early 2017 with officers from the Department of the Environment over the restrictions on farmers who want to poison a protected type of grass. The matter was outside the responsibilities of the then Minister for Cities.
At the time of the meeting, the department was investigating whether there had been illegal clearing of that grass strain on a farm near Dalgety in NSW.
The property was owned by Jam Land Pty Ltd, a company which had Mr Taylor's brother Richard on its board, while the company Farm Partnerships Australia owned a third of it, and was in turn owned by Gufee Pty Ltd, a company owned by Mr Taylor and his wife Louise Clegg.
There is considerable equity distance between Mr Taylor and the Dalgety property - three levels of separation as Mr Taylor puts it.
However, the suggestion is he used his special access to the bureaucracy to help his brother, if not his own business interests.
But that doesn't take into account the fraternal connection and Mr Taylor has struggled to explain why he thought the 2017 meeting was necessary.
And Mr Taylor has not been able to be definitive on who or what prompted him to attend that departmental meeting.
Labor's Tony Burke on Monday brutally summarised the reasons given by the minister.
"Can the Minister confirm that his statements to the parliament now offer three reasons for why he held a meeting with the Department of the Environment in 2017?" he asked.
"One, somebody wrote a letter six months after the meeting that was addressed to somebody else. Two, somebody wrote a letter three years before the meeting that was addressed to somebody else and, three, he had a conversation with a bloke in Yass."
Mr Taylor had not been required to respond to Labor's questions because they did not go to his Energy and Emissions portfolio.
But day after day he rose and tried to talk his way out of his predicament.
On Monday he was reduced to accusing Labor of despising farmers, in effect saying to the bloke in Yass, "It's not me they're after, it's you."
But in fact it was him.