AN old saying popularised by The Godfather, "keep your friends close but your enemies closer", might equally apply to Australian federal politics right now as it did to Hollywood's characterisation of the Mafia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from the opposition for perceived failings on a number of fronts with regard to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
First, he was accused of taking too long to deliver the first stimulus package and now he is being criticised for not rolling out Stage 2 of the package quickly enough, either.
There has been criticism of the mixed messaging with regards to whether parents should be sending their children to school or keeping them at home; there has been criticism of apparent inconsistencies in the rules being applied to social distancing; and there has been criticism of the government's failure to ensure social services systems were ready for the predictable massive surge in applications from people who have suddenly found themselves unemployed.
The PM does deserve some latitude because this crisis is changing rapidly and Australia's federation means he must work the states even as he attempts to craft a single national response. But he is getting very little at the moment.
By contrast, senior Labor figures Chris Bowen and Kristina Keneally held a press conference on Wednesday where they delivered their clear, concise solutions to some of the problems we're facing.
"They're wrong to make the [social distancing] rules so confusing," Mr Bowen said.
"The fact there are queues around Centrelink offices is an indictment of the social service support system. Yes, it's unprecedented demand but it was not unexpected demand," Ms Keneally said.
"Do more, do it earlier," Mr Bowen said. "... There is no such thing as an overreaction to this crisis."
It was stirring stuff but, of course, it's easy in opposition. It's all care and no responsibility.
But the prime minister could make it harder for the opposition to take such free kicks by simply inviting Labor leader Anthony Albanese into the room when the big decisions are being made.
This is an extraordinary crisis and requires an extraordinary response. And the country would be much better served by an opposition that was allowed to be part of the solution than one allowed to revel in simply point-scoring from the problems.