Veteran’s Affairs Minister and Nationals MP De-Anne Kelly isn’t exactly popular with her Coalition colleagues, going by stories in The Australian, The Sydney Morning Heraldand The Age this morning.

Victorian Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield slammed Kelly in the party room yesterday, criticising her comments in a newspaper article that Barnaby Joyce’s vote against the Government on competition policy was “validated” by local support.

Fifield has insisted ministers must resign if they could not endorse Government policy and asked the Prime Minister if the convention of ministerial solidarity – that ministers are obliged to support Government decisions or resign – still applies.

The PM has said the convention stands and promised to speak to Kelly who, in turn, has promised Nationals leader Mark Vaile she will watch her words.

Fifield’s stance has been supported by several MPs, of whom described Kelly’s conduct to The Age as “treacherous.”

All of this, of course, is shorthand for a massive sh*tfight that has been raging in the Government party room for months. Put simply, Liberals hate the Nats – country Liberals in particular. There are many more Liberal members from RARA seats that Nats. They believe that all their colleagues do is b*tch, moan and blackmail – and then take credit for any concessions to their constituency that are won by the Government as a whole.

Nats are a dying breed, say the Liberals. They don’t need them and don’t want to put up with them rocking the boat. The boil has finally burst.

Not that Kelly is a particularly sympathetic character. She’s not a great minister and given her role in the ratbag KKC troika – the band of Nationals dissidents Kelly, Bob Katter and Ian Causley constituted that caused so much trouble for the Government – many Liberals are amazed she’s even on the front bench.

There’s also some interesting indications of the levels of paranoia in Camp Costello in Fifield’s attack.

Fifield, of course, came into the Senate straight from the Treasurer’s office. Another Victorian Senate member of Camp Costello, Michael Ronaldson, used his first speech as a Senator to slam dissent within the party.

Fifield has also been accused of using his notional role as the deputy chair of the tax ginger group to nobble debate – or at least any debate that might embarrass his old boss.

Are there so few Costello supporters that they’re paranoid about anyone breaking ranks?