It appears that Tony Abbott and his band of loyalists don’t like a dose of their own medicine — and today’s remarkable attack in The Australian on the head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, by a close friend of the former PM is proof.

As prime minister, Abbott went out of his way to exploit national security for political ends, and to co-opt the relatively inexperienced Lewis, as well as the AFP, into that process. Remarkably, Abbott convinced Lewis to allow him to use ASIO headquarters for a media event in June — which, like most things Abbott did, turned into a debacle over allegedly classified material being shown on television.

On the weekend, Lewis dared to suggest that demonising Muslim communities makes the task of our national security agencies more difficult — he was responding to Abbott’s recent inflammatory comments about Islam. Today, Abbott confidant Greg Sheridan has published criticism of Lewis from hard-right figures within the Liberal Party. The suggestion is that Malcolm Turnbull is using Lewis for political purposes to undermine Abbott on national security (the PM’s office denies this).

National security is important to the Abbott camp, partly because they have very little else with which to undermine Turnbull. Under Abbott, budget revenue collapsed and spending blew out, leaving us no better off on the quest for surplus than we were under Labor. But having so blatantly tried to exploit national security when they were in office, Abbott and his delusional coterie can hardly complain if they now find themselves on the receiving end of the same treatment. Moreover, Lewis is merely stating the obvious. Abbott and friends are undermining national security when they set out to attack our Muslim communities.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey