Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott have publicly clashed over claims the Government was prepared to swap changes to gun policy for support in the Senate.
Mr Abbott has insisted there was no formal agreement with Senator David Leyonhjelm to end an import ban on the seven-shot Adler shotgun.
But the Prime Minister publicly rebuked him during Question Time, stating he was confident Mr Abbott was aware of the deal while he was in office.
“I’m satisfied that the Minister for Justice acted in the full knowledge of the Prime Minister’s Office at that time,” he said.
Mr Abbott returned fire saying he had been “most grievously misrepresented”, but attacked Labor, rather than the Prime Minister.
“Various Labor members put it to this Parliament that I had somehow connived, had a deal with Senator Leyonhjelm to weaken Australia’s tough, gold standard gun control laws,” Mr Abbott said.
“This is absolutely and utterly false.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Justice Minister Michael Keenan have both confirmed their offices discussed lifting the ban with Senator Leyonhjelm in 2015.
During Question Time, Minister Keenan said he had kept the Prime Minister’s office “appraised” of his discussion with Senator Leyonhjelm.
The Liberal Democrat has claimed he discussed the amendments personally with Minister Dutton in Bob Day’s office.
Mr Abbott first weighed into the debate on Tuesday saying it was “disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws”.
He also claimed the government would be “crackers” to change Australia’s gun laws with a heightened terror threat.
Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits.
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) October 18, 2016
A temporary import ban on the seven-round Adler shotgun was introduced under the Abbott government in 2015 and was set to expire in July, but the ban was recently extended.
The extension angered Senator Leyonhjelm who claimed the government broke a deal to lift the ban. He has suggested that ending the ban would be crucial for his vote on the ABCC industrial relations bill.
The Liberal Democrat released a letter received jointly on behalf of Cabinet ministers Michael Keenan and Peter Dutton.
The 2015 letter said the ministers had agreed to insert a 12-month sunset clause on the import ban in return for Senator Leyonhelm’s vote on a migration amendment bill.