Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took a thinly veiled swipe at the former PM in his Daily Telegraph column on Saturday July 1, 2017.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took a thinly veiled swipe at the former PM in his Daily Telegraph column on Saturday July 1, 2017. Jonathan Ng

Tony Abbott turns on Malcolm Turnbull again

TONY Abbott has launched a fresh attack on the Liberal Party leadership, asserting the Prime Minister does not respect the party's rank and file.

Making his third chastising speech this week, the former prime minister made the comments at a gathering of NSW Liberal Party members, saying it was "a tragedy" that the top end of the party expected its members to "turn up, to pay up, and to shut up".

Referring to "the hierarchy", Mr Abbott specifically pointed to branch presidents, state executives, members of parliament, and the prime minister.

"Respect is a two-way street, and it's time the party hierarchy showed the respect to the membership that the membership has always given to them," he said. "It's just not right, we are letting ourselves down."

Mr Abbott's latest rebuke follows a number of recent incidents where the backbencher appeared to undermine the government. Earlier this week he launched a Trump-like manifesto to ensure the government wins the next election, and called for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hit back in a column published in the Daily Telegraph today, taking a swipe at his predecessor by calling for builders "not wreckers" in the party, and declaring people were sick of politics.

"They are sick of politics and sick of personalities. Frankly, so am I," he wrote.

"This is a time for builders, not wreckers. For leaders who get things done and don't just talk."

Mr Abbott's undermining offensive comes amid increased speculation the backbencher could be considering another shot at the top job.

In a news conference on Saturday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the feud between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott as the biggest fight in the nation.

"Tomorrow in Brisbane Jeff Horn will take on Manny Pacquaio, and for a few hours that'll be the bigest fight in the nation. Once that's over it'll be back to Abbott and Turnbull," he said.

"The government's too distracted fighting itself to worry about the needs of eveyday Australians."

Those closest to Abbott insist he is not campaigning to return to the leadership, which he lost to Mr Turnbull in September 2015.

A Sky News-ReachTel poll published Friday showed more than two thirds of voters preferred Mr Turnbull as coalition leader over Tony Abbott.

News Corp Australia


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