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Mathias Cormann: Tony Abbott could be helping Bill Shorten

21 April 2017 2:16 AM
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Mathias Cormann: Tony Abbott could be helping Bill Shorten

Abbott comments 'destructive': Cormann3:41

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says former prime minister Tony Abbott's comments have been destructive.

MATHIAS Cormann has warned former prime minister Tony Abbott his public interventions could be helping Bill Shorten become the nation’s next leader.

In the third round of what’s becoming a public slanging match between the finance minister and former PM, Mr Cormann said his colleague’s backbench commentary on the government’s performance was working against the his party.

“We have to ensure, working as a strong and united team, that we don’t help inadvertently Bill Shorten become prime minister,” he said on Sky News.

“Tony has got to be very careful that he’s not seen to be helping Bill Shorten become prime minister because that would be very bad for Australia.”

“Mathias and I had a man to man talk, we had a very blunt conversation about it, and a look, if you don’t like what someone is doing, rather than speak out publicly at least in the first instance, you should have a man to man discussion,” he said.

Mr Cormann revealed his interpretation of the pair’s heart to heart on Friday morning, conforming the pair “did have a direct conversation” after Mr Cormann said he was saddened by his colleague’s disruptive contribution.

“I stand by everything I said that day, and the other point that I have made to Tony in that conversation that I did previously talk to him privately about the concerns that I had about some of his public interventions,” he said.

“Obviously some of his interruptions in the past have been somewhat destructive and were to be interpreted as undermining our efforts to provide strong and effective government and to maximise our chances of being successful at the next election.”

In a separate interview with Sky News on Thursday, immigration minister Peter Dutton offered a more encouraging perspective on Mr Abbott’s meddling.

“I think it’s appropriate for Tony to be adding to the public debate. He’s a former prime minister, he’s well respected by his colleagues, I think he’s well respected by people,” he said.

“He said his comments in this very important context. He’s said he does not want Bill Shorten to be the next prime minister of our country, and he wants us to embrace policies which will allow us to win the next election. I think he should be applauded for that.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been repeatedly questioned about the former leader’s intervention and the possibility of Mr Abbott planning a prime ministerial comeback.

In an interview with Seven’s Sunrise, Mr Turnbull said he wouldn’t be distracted.

“There are many potential distractions in my job but my focus is to concentrate on delivering for the Australian people,” he said.

“I look forward to all of the members of my party room, all of them that are on the back bench or the front bench, working together and getting out there and talking up the success of the government’s policies.”


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