Coalition frontbencher Eric Abetz has lashed out at Government colleagues who are leaking anonymously to journalists.
“I think it’s gutless,” Senator Abetz told AM. “It’s a breach of the rules.
“If somebody is gutless and in breach of the rules one really wonders why a journalist even bothers to repeat comments from such an individual.
“Every now and then you have these breakouts, which are unfortunate.
“Those journalists that deal with those people should be asking the question – what motivates?”
Senator Abetz said he spoke to his colleagues “face-to-face or not at all” and said he was “not one of those people who has unattributed comments in the media.”
The criticism came after yesterday’s Coalition joint party room meeting where Prime Minister Tony Abbott said ministers have been “read the riot act” for having public spats in the wake of last week’s messy gay marriage debate.
Admitting it had been a scrappy fortnight for the Government, Mr Abbott told the joint-party room meeting that ministers had been warned there “would be consequences” for any who did not maintain discipline in future.
During the meeting, one backbencher castigated her colleagues for their behaviour.
Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, spent five minutes berating ministers for what she saw as the debacle after the same-sex marriage debate last week.
She said Cabinet ministers were sacrificing people in marginal seats for the luxury of expressing their own views in public, and called for “unity”.
“I didn’t take on this position to see my country’s future frittered away,” Ms Sudmalis told ABC local radio after the meeting.
“I just added some perspective on it from a marginal seat holder, saying that we’ve got a great message to take forward.”
Several Liberals say during the meeting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop urged her colleagues to think about how their actions could impact on the upcoming by-election in the Western Australian seat of Canning.
One told the ABC “the message was clear, before you open your mouth think how this might play in a campaign”.
Another said the deputy Liberal leader was “making the point [that] how we fare in Canning will have implications for how the government is judged by the media and the community”.