Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes politicians – not staffers – should carry the blame for the Abbott government’s errors.
Conservative commentators and News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch have called for Peta Credlin to quit or be sacked as Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, after a series of government policy stumbles.
Campaigning in Queensland for Saturday’s state election, Mr Shorten said targeting Ms Credlin over mistakes, such as awarding Prince Philip a knighthood, was wrong.
“Peta Credlin is not the person who should be carrying the blame for the mistakes of the Abbott government,” Mr Shorten said.
“This is not some episode of The West Wing where you attribute everything to the staffers.
“This is a question of accountability. This is Tony Abbott’s mistake.”
Mr Shorten said the government’s problem was not about personalities, but its policies.
Health Minister Sussan Ley also came to Ms Credlin’s defence, saying she was a “terrific asset” for the Liberal party and the PM’s office.
Speaking to reporters at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Ms Ley talked up the government’s chances of recovering.
“Sometimes you can be down match point and still recover,” she said.
“Sometimes you can make a silly drop shot in the middle of the game and you can win that game and go on and win the match.”
Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said on Thursday the knighthood decision could end Mr Abbott’s leadership.
“This is just such a very, very, very stupid decision. So damaging that it could be fatal,” he told Macquarie Radio.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who the government is courting to pass changes to Medicare and universities, said Mr Abbott was “completely out of touch with the Australian people”.
“Tony Abbott just can’t put a foot right,” Ms Lambie said.