Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has accused Malcolm Turnbull of “throwing him under the bus” and causing turmoil in the Liberal party.
Mr Joyce, who was forced to resign earlier this year after having an extramarital affair with an employee, said the former prime minister was poisoning the coalition government ahead of next year’s federal election.
“One of our big problems was Malcolm Turnbull … the person who threw me under the bus,” he told Sky News on Friday.
“He just started delivering this – almost this poisonous, incendiary approach now – in the assistance of trying to deliver us to opposition.”
Mr Joyce is still furious at Mr Turnbull for publicly denouncing his extramarital affair with Vikki Campion, who later had his baby and remains his new partner.
He is also angry at Mr Turnbull for walking away from parliament after losing the leadership in August, and for supposedly not campaigning vocally enough for the Liberal party candidate in the byelection for his former seat of Wentworth.
Some coalition MPs are also squirmish about Mr Turnbull’s occasional public statements since leaving public office, especially those aimed at conservative colleagues who plotted his downfall.
Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie also took a swipe at Mr Turnbull.
“I think former prime ministers of all colours should consider their legacy when they’re looking at their behaviour post-leaving parliament,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I’m sure that every one of our MPs and senators is working hard to convince the Australian public that we will deliver for them.”
With the coalition struggling to remain in control of parliament and languishing in opinion polls, Leader of the House Christopher Pyne has ruled out changing Liberal leaders again.
Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has confirmed she will recontest the next election and has not ruled out running for the leadership again in the future.
Research published by The Australian Institute this week found more Australians recognise Ms Bishop than Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Appearing on Nine Network on Friday, Mr Pyne was asked why the Liberal party didn’t just “let Julie Bishop run the show” given her popularity.
“We have a leader, it’s Scott Morrison. We are not changing the leader again,” he said.
Meanwhile, Liberal party federal vice-president Karina Okotel took aim at her Victorian colleagues over the failings of the party’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat the Andrews Labor government in the state election.
“The reality is we could have done a lot better,” she told Sky News.
“The silver lining is Victorians tend to not like having a state government and a federal government who are of the same party – they like to have a check and a balance there.”
A leaked email, written by Ms Okotel and published in The Australian, describes her colleagues as “complete and utter fools”.