It has been a rough couple of weeks for the Liberal Party, following the ousting of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month, and Tony Abbott almost got a taste of the same medicine last week as colleagues held a protest vote over his endorsement as the Liberal candidate for Warringah.
Abbott emerged victorious from the preselection vote on Friday and has since said he is “absolutely not concerned” about the challenge, despite a number of people anonymously coming forward to publications in the days since, describing the NSW pollie as “useless”.
“The disappointing aspect wasn’t the numbers but the fact a number of people chose to engage in anonymous character assassinations afterwards,” he said.
“The problem in politics is not so much the budget deficit but the trust deficit and people who aren’t straight to your face, who lie behind your back are not who we want in public life.”
He added: “They have never been very happy with me, I suppose the demise of the former PM has stirred them up,” he said. “I have always been pretty outspoken but the difference between me and my critics is if I have something to say I put my name to it.”
The protest vote against Abbott didn’t remain the hot topic within the Liberal party for long though as on Monday, the member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, announced her decision to quit parliament, confirming she would remain in her seat until the Wentworth by-election next month before reconsidering her position.
Speaking on Monday, Sudmalis singled out fellow MP Gareth Ward, who she said had “flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women”. She said: “This is not the first time that Gareth has flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women. He doesn’t just get even, he annihilates anyone who opposes him.
She went on to say that her decision was not related to the recent change in leadership of the party, adding: “My decision does, however, have everything to do with the NSW state division and their lack of action, and the combined undermining actions as outlined by the revenge-motivated trifecta surrounding me locally.
“It is the state division level that I have little or no support [from] during the past six months while waiting for the preselection process, which should have been determined before now.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed Ann’s announcement during a press conference on Tuesday, saying: “Politics is a pretty rough business. People can get all caught up in these little skirmishes that not only occurs in the Liberal party. This can happen in the local branches of any organisation.
“It’s important that party members like prime ministers always remember why they’re involved in politics, and that’s to serve the Australian people not to carry on with stupid games.
“We all get frustrated sometimes by shenanigans, it irritates the stuffing out of me, but it doesn’t distract me. Its my job to look through the dust that gets kicked up around this place and focus on issues that matter to Australians every single day.”