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Palmer stands by Credlin attack

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Clive Palmer is unapologetic for his personal attack against Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, further souring relations between the government and the minority party.

The leader of the Palmer United Party suggested that the Paid Parental Leave scheme had only been introduced for the benefit of Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin.

“Why should Australian citizens and businesses be taxed, and working women discriminated against, just so the Prime Minister’s chief of staff can receive a massive benefit when she gets pregnant,” Mr Palmer asked parliament.

Mr Palmer has been widely condemned for dragging an unelected staff member into public debate in such a personal way.

Liberal politician Christopher Pyne was quick to attack Mr Palmer’s comments, calling them “cowardly” and “ignorant”, according to a Sky News report.

Julie Bishop said to single out Ms Credlin was a “particularly hurtful thing for him to do”.

This morning the mining magnate refused to apologise for his comments, denying he was being sexist.

“I believe as chief of staff, regardless of whether she is a woman or man, she exercises undue influence on government policy to the detriment of many of the elected members of parliament,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Palmer said he was not aware of Ms Credlin’s personal struggles, a reference to her public statements on undergoing IVF treatment.

He made the comments because they concerned policy.

“I think policies should be formulated from the party room,” he said.

“It shouldn’t come down from Tony Abbott’s office telling elected members of parliament what they will do.”

Mr Palmer was later forced to backtrack after he referred to Ms Credlin as a dog. “She’s the top enchilada. She’s the top dog – oh, I shouldn’t say that. She’s the boss. She’s chief of staff. She’s the top person.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Palmer’s comments were “unwarranted and wrong”.

“Our arguments should be about the issues,” he told AAP.

“There is more than enough wrong with Tony Abbott’s unfair and unaffordable paid parental leave scheme for politicians to focus on, just ask any Liberal or National Party MP.”

The incident is the latest disagreement between the two parties, casting doubt over how budget negotiations between the Palmer United Party and the Liberal government will fare.

– with AAP