An Andrew Bolt column outlining a potential tilt at the prime ministership by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has elicited a scathing response from the former Liberal leader.
Mr Turnbull told reporters the leadership speculation “borders on the demented” and is “quite unhinged”, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported
“It borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as the Communications Minister, the launch by a cross-party group of friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister,” He said.
“It is quite unhinged. Now, Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the government’s enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC. I don’t think you would see anything as crazy as that on the ABC.
“I just have to say to Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.”
Bolt’s column, in Monday’s Herald Sun, outlined the potential for Turnbull to seize the leadership with the assistance mining magnate MP Clive Palmer, whose Palmer United Party could prevent government legislation passing through the senate.
“And if Abbott or his ministers want to negotiate, forget it. Palmer has banned any talks unless Abbott gives him extra staff and offices to which his micro-party is not entitled,” Mr Bolt wrote.
“Yet there he was this week dining in Canberra with his mate, in a very public restaurant on Tunbull’s invitation without Tony Abbott’s knowledge.
“Pure coincidence, Turnbull protested. Yet this sent an unmistakable message to Liberal MPs – replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and maybe Palmer will play ball.”