The former PM and Deputy PM are both stirring a bit of controversy while Malcolm Turnbull is away. (ABC News: Brett Worthington)
Squabbles and insults are flying between Coalition MPs with former prime minister Tony Abbott posting on social media that frontbencher Scott Morrison “should have the gumption to think for himself”.
- Tony Abbott took to social media to level more insults at Treasurer Scott Morrison
- Mr Abbott’s migration suggestion was slapped down by the Treasurer and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo
- Meanwhile, Nationals are still bickering about leadership, with Andrew Broad the latest to take a swipe
Mr Abbott posted on Facebook and Twitter today to continue his argument with Mr Morrison about Australia’s immigration level.
The Treasurer rejected Mr Abbott’s call to cut the immigration rate, saying it would cost the economy billions of dollars.
Mr Abbott accused Mr Morrison yesterday of being captured by Treasury, which he said was always in favour of more immigration.
The former PM took that a step further today, saying on Facebook:
“If Treasury is right, why not solve the deficit simply by ramping up immigration?
“We should not let Treasury’s accounting rules stop the Government from acting in our medium-term national interests and Scott should have the gumption to think for himself.”
Facebook post from Tony Abbott: “Scott Morrison has conveniently forgotten the very vigorous discussion about cutting immigration that took place inside government in early 2015 as part of the budget process…”
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has also strongly disputed Mr Abbott’s call for a cut in the immigration level.
Mr Ciobo told RN he could not disagree more strongly with Mr Abbott’s comments.
“I think it’s a great shame that we see immigration, and in particular, immigrants, having the finger of blame pointed at them on issues like house prices and depressed wage growth,” he said.
“I think that’s lazy, I think it’s highly inaccurate.”
The spat has happened while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is in the United States for talks with President Donald Trump, and comes as leadership problems continue to hit the junior Coalition party.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is on personal leave, but has given a high profile interview from the apartment he is living in rent-free with his new partner.
Today, one of his own team took a big swipe at Mr Joyce.
Nationals backbencher Andrew Broad quoted the late evangelist Billy Graham saying “when character is lost, all is lost”, suggesting it was applicable to the leadership of the National party.
Mr Broad has not responded to requests for further comment today.
Senior Liberals have not endorsed Mr Joyce’s leadership, instead repeating that it is a matter for the Nationals to decide.
About eight of the 21 members of the Nationals partyroom are understood to want Mr Joyce to quit the leadership, while another eight support him staying.
The rest are understood to be undecided and checking the views of their constituents.