Weekly column for The New Daily.
Analysis for Crikey.
Much has been made of comments by Tony Abbott’s enabler, Peta Credlin, on Andrew Bolt’s show last night, particularly her attribution of a damning assessment of Malcolm Turnbull to one of his “cabinet colleagues”.
Credlin’s claim has been quoted in today’s Daily Telegraph, which I’ve reproduced below:
“(The weekend’s comments) reinforced this question mark people have always had over the Prime Minister that it’s not about the Liberal Party, it’s not about conservative values, it’s actually about Malcolm, and as one of his cabinet colleagues said to me today, and this is extraordinary, he said; ‘This is the guy that knifed Peter King to get the seat, knifed Brendan (Nelson) to become leader, knifed Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister, and the next knife’s obviously coming the Liberal Party’s way,’ and I thought if colleagues are prepared to say that sort of stuff now, I’m not a journalist, I’m a former staffer, so they know me well, but that’s a pretty extraordinary comment to come from a cabinet colleague,” Ms Credlin said.
Almost 12 hours earlier another Abbott-enabler and Credlin’s co-host at Sky News, Alan Jones, uttered the same phrase, almost verbatim.
“Let me just make a point here – the elephant in the room – but no-one’s prepared to say this but I am because I’m sick to death of the stuff that I read. And Tony Abbott won’t say it. Peta Credlin half alluded to it. From the moment Abbott became prime minister of this country Malcolm Turnbull was white-anting him at every turn. Malcolm Turnbull knifed Peter King in the back to win the seat of Wentworth. He knifed Brendan Nelson in the back to win the leadership of the Liberal Party. He knifed Abbott in the back to become to prime minister. And that has to be the starting point of any discussion about the mess that we’re in.
The similarity is uncanny.
Did the anonymous cabinet colleague simply parrot the Jones line to Credlin, or did he make the same comment to Jones first?
Or is Jones actually Credlin’s “cabinet” source, with the two having concocted the line to drive a wedge between conservative cabinet members and Turnbull?
For it’s hard to see which Liberal cabinet minister would make such a comment, given they (Cormann, Dutton, Porter and Frydenberg) have been publicly defensive of Turnbull in recent months. The only other conservatives in cabinet are Nationals, but even then it is difficult to see any of them giving Credlin this type of ammunition.
Even so, it’s fair to say the Turnbull camp will now be looking askance at the former Abbott supporters in cabinet, which is what Abbott needs to cleave the conservatives away from his successor.