Malcolm Turnbull says he's never thought about what he admires in Bill Shorten

Watch out for those swipes, Shorten. Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty Images.

Just days into the 74-day (not yet) election campaign the political punches are already being swung.

On Sydney 2SM this morning radio host John Laws asked prime minister Malcolm Turnbull what was one characteristic he admired in Opposition leader Bill Shorten.

His response was neither forthcoming or straightforward.

After a significant pause he said: “I haven’t turned my mind to that…

“I don’t want to say that there’s nothing I admire in him… I get on well enough with him, I just haven’t turned my mind to that.”

Later in the interview, the conversation turned to the budget on May 3, and Turnbull reiterated his perplexed relationship with Shorten.

“I don’t have a scratchy relationship with him at all,” he said.

“I’m just genuinely surprised with the policies he’s setting up.”

Perhaps the prime minister has some grudging admiration for the fact that Shorten, who most commentators wrote off when Turnbull assumed the Liberal leadership, is still in the race, with polling showing voters are evenly split between the two sides. But probably not right now.

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