Civil war as Abbott lights up against Turnbull and Shorten sits back

Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull on the day of the Liberal leadership spill, in September 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Tony Abbott listens to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the party room at Parliament House in November. Photo: Andrew Meares
Nanjing Night Net

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Burwood, Sydney on Friday. Photo: Janie Barrett

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull depart at the end of Question Time, just before a leadership spill was call, at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 14 September 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

An uncivil war has broken out in the federal parliamentary Liberal Party, within the government of Australia.

Exaggeration? A livid Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t seem to think so, judging by his demeanour.

And there’s no exaggerating the anger of moderates Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, and even Abbott’s old mate and right wing fellow traveller, Mathias Cormann.

The normally reserved, ultra-cautious, philosophically conservative Finance Minister, who stuck with Tony Abbott to the bitter end, has angrily cut the tag.

Admitting to being “flabbergasted”, Cormann described Abbott’s extraordinary interview on Sky News on Thursday evening as “completely unacceptable”. And he went on, branding it deliberately unhelpful, hypocritical, and plain wrong.

‘He’s not helping our cause, he’s not helping our country, he’s not helping himself, much of what he says is either wrong or inconsistent with what he did,’ Cormann responded via the same network on Friday morning.

Shades of 2012 when Wayne Swan, Nicola Roxon, Tony Burke et al, went on breakfast TV to reveal what they really thought about Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership. We know where that all led.

Abbott of course, had promised not to become a wrecker – a now explosively broken pledge to add to those he shattered while at the helm of a government unparalleled for its dogma, its ludicrous inconsistencies (remember its gold-plated paid parental leave scheme), and its political tin ear.

Now, wounded and unpredictable, Abbott has obviously concluded he has nothing left to lose. In this guise he is an existential threat to the unity of the Coalition, its leadership, and its capacity to maintain public confidence.

Displaying a selective memory and no hint of responsibility for a government that slipped into negative territory quicker than any in polling history, Abbott accuses Turnbull’s government of being “Labor light” and of drifting to defeat.

Actually, that “defeat” had been a virtual certainty under his leadership. And yet his prescription is be more like me.

The right is fracturing and it is doing it live on television. Its main institutional pillar, the Liberal Party, is riven with divisions. Abbott remains inside the tent where his presence portends catastrophic disunity. Others hold the same view and could wreak further havoc.

Just weeks ago Cory Bernardi legged it, taking his Senate sinecure with him while claiming the true conservative mantle. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation nips at the Coalition’s right flank, sending Nationals into paroxysms.

Danger abounds. Bernardi says Abbott still believes he can return. Right wingers who agree, grumble that Turnbull is still planning to revive gay marriage reforms and warn this would be the trigger. A pall of hate and suspicion has replaced the sunny optimism that accompanied Turnbull’s arrival.

And a baying right wing media facilitates all of this, virtue signalling a “true” conservatism while delivering nothing but unproductive anger and of course, an electoral windfall to Bill Shorten.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.