Tony Abbott

This article originally appeared on Liberal Party website The Fair Go, republished here with permission.*

Government ministers have condemned the behaviour of a certain former Liberal Party leader, whose behaviour has been seen to be undermining the Turnbull government. The latest minister to upbraid the ex-prime minister in question was Josh Frydenberg, who accused the one-time Howard government health minister of helping to elect the Labor Party. Mr Frydenberg suggested the “constant critiquing” of the Turnbull government by the relevant member of parliament, who represents a well-known electorate on the north shore of one of Australia’s more prominent state capitals, was giving a free kick to Bill Shorten’s opposition.

Mr Frydenberg said that the keen cyclist and triathlete was entitled to his opinions, but questioned who his commentary was benefiting, and suggested that it was Shorten “who’s benefiting most, unfortunately, from the constant interventions from this devoted husband and father of three”.

Mr Frydenberg’s comments come after audio was leaked to Fairfax Media of the individual currently under discussion, attacking the Turnbull government’s budget at a branch meeting in the electorate of Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. During the speech, the well-known aficionado of vegetables of the genus Allium also called on rank-and-file Liberals to “rise up” against the current direction of the Liberal Party. The man, who is described as of medium height with thinning hair, told the assembled party members that government ministers themselves did not believe in the budget, and that the Liberal Party was currently at a “low ebb”. The former rugby player and amateur boxer said that the party “needed help” because it had been forced by the Senate into a budget that was “second-best”.

A Liberal Party source said that audience was “in raptures” over the address from the self-described feminist and surfing enthusiast, in which the speaker did not wear any of his trademark revealing swimwear, but did make strident comments on climate change and the primacy of jobs over emissions.

The Rhodes scholar’s speech at the branch meeting was just the latest in a string of appearances in which the ex-trainee priest has ruffled the feathers of colleagues with controversial comments on government policy that many have seen as a direct attack on Prime Minister Turnbull. Visits to think tanks, party functions, and various media outlets have led observers to speculate that the British emigre and dietitian’s son may well be readying himself for a second tilt at the Liberal leadership. Cabinet ministers, however, are currently expressing support for Mr Turnbull and have criticised the outspoken erstwhile journalist, who has not ever fathered an ABC sound recordist, for his disloyalty and sniping.

Mr Turnbull refused to comment on the latest comments, saying only, “I won’t get involved with speculation regarding the gentleman in question, notwithstanding his possession of both a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws.”

*As granted to satirist Ben Pobjie, he promises

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Peter Fray
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