Prime Minister Tony Abbott has blamed sexism for much of the criticism levelled at his chief of staff Peta Credlin, amid reports of tension between his lieutenant and members of his front-bench.
“Do you really think that my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?” Mr Abbott said during an interview with ABC television.
“I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.”
Mr Abbott said if people had a problem with his office they should bring their complaints to him.
“This is the same office which ran a very effective opposition, it’s the same office which has got an enormous amount done this year sometimes under very difficult circumstances.”
In an interview with Sky News, former Howard Government minister Peter Reith said Mr Abbott made a mistake by bringing gender and sexism into the discussion.
In opposition, Mr Abbott criticised former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for “playing the gender card” after he found himself on the receiving end of her now famous ‘Misogyny Speech’.
Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said all the criticism of Ms Credlin was coming from within the coalition government.
“The good news is the government has finally stopped blaming the Labor party for everything,” told reporters.
“The bad news is they are blaming each other.”
Mr Abbott’s latest comments came as Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer broke ranks to call for more women to be promoted to cabinet.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is the only female cabinet minister in the Abbott Government.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Ms O’Dwyer said there was an abundance of women in the Coalition who were “ripe for promotion”.
“I actually don’t think that’s a big revelation,” she said.
“I think we as a society should expect to see women in senior leadership positions, whether it’s in our parliament, whether it’s in our business community, or whether it’s in an area that I’m particularly interested in, which is science, maths and engineering.”
– with AAP