Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Treasurer Joe Hockey did not consult him before leading a new push for Australia to become a republic.
Mr Hockey angered some of his Federal Cabinet colleagues with the announcement he will lead a parliamentary friendship group on the issue.
Mr Abbott, a monarchist, said Australia is doing well without being a republic.
“No, we didn’t talk about this because we’ve got bigger things on our minds most of the time, but there are lots of parliamentary friendship groups and this is just one of them,” he told Channel Nine.
“I think one of the problems with the republican push is it seems to feel compelled in the way you just have to suggest that there’s some lack of maturity, some lack of independence in our system.”
Mr Hockey has agreed to co-chair a yet-to-be-established group, which will work towards holding a national vote in five years on having an Australian head of state.
It was announced yesterday by the head of the Australian Republican Movement, Peter Fitzsimons, along with Labor co-chair ACT senator Katy Gallagher.
While some in Government ranks supported the move, others argued Mr Hockey should focus on his day job as the Treasurer.
One Government minister told AM he was “blown away” to hear the Treasurer had become involved with such a “peripheral issue”.
Mr Hockey had shown a “complete lack of judgement,” the frontbencher said.
However, Mr Hockey defended his decision, saying he had long advocated his views on a republic.
“They are a matter of public record and those views haven’t changed,” his spokeswoman said.
Another minister supported Mr Hockey, saying it would not affect his job as Treasurer, and accusing others of using the issue as “a proxy for creating disharmony”.
Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss dismissed the new push for a republic on Wednesday.
“Let’s concentrate on the things that matter most for our country,” Mr Truss said, nominating the economy and security as more important issues for the Government to focus on.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said he would not be putting his hand up to join the new Parliamentary Friendship Group.
“I believe everybody should have friends, I can’t think of a world without friends, but I’m going to be focusing on other things,” Mr Joyce told AM.
“Everyone I spoke to today, not one brought up the republic, I tell you what.
“They’re most certainly bringing up the turn around in cattle prices, though.
“Joe’s got a lot of work in front of our nation, obviously what’s happening in the markets overseas is keeping people’s eyes well and truly peeled.”