Leading article: The rules of engagement

Belinda Neal certainly sounds like a handful. The Australian MP has been ordered by her leader, Kevin Rudd, to attend anger management counselling after she allegedly abused staff in a restaurant.

But it is hard not to feel a little sorry for "Toxic Belinda" because her behaviour doesn't sound particularly outlandish by Australian political standards. The former prime minister Paul Keating characterised politicians as having "brains like sparrows' nests – all shit and sticks". Mr Keating also described his successor, John Howard, as "a little desiccated coconut".

Nor is this robust tone of debate anything new. Charles Cameron Kingston, a premier of South Australia in the 1890s, accused an opponent of being "a gruesome ghoul with lips reeking with mendacity and foetid with malice; a forensic compound of squid and skunk".

Yes, they do politics differently Down Under. No wonder they call it the lucky country.