Key Liberal talks of 'sheer vitriol' in Credlin email leak
ANY illusion of Liberal Party unity has again been shattered by new email leaks that suggest a growing storm over Tony Abbott's chief of staff Peta Credlin's marriage to party director Brian Loughnane.
Sydney Morning Herald reports that in two emails circulated to federal Liberal Party's bosses over the weekend, the party's national treasurer Phil Higginson said he was now being "overwhelmed by the sheer vitriol" within the party.
He said he was growing uncomfortable with Mr Abbott - a good friend - being "brought down in this way".
Mr Higginson said there had been delays in receiving information from Mr Loughnane, meaning he could only now sign off on the party's accounts for 2013/14.
He then took aim at the damage being done to the party by Mr Loughnane and Ms Credlin's relationship, while holding such key roles in the party.
Typically, Mr Loughnane's role would include ensuring the Prime Minister's office is operating effectively.
"How this party ever let a husband and wife team into these roles…" was beyond him, he wrote in one email.
He said it was a situation that would never be allowed in corporate Australia.
"A managing director would never allow his executive assistant to be the wife of the chairman," he wrote.
Mr Higginson ended his email with:
"I hope the recipients will treat the letter with the utmost confidentiality and debate it only internally. It will serve little purpose to hang out our dirty linen."
The release of these key emails to the media has also raised more speculation about divisions within the Liberal Party, only weeks after the Prime Minister was almost rolled by his colleagues.
Mr Abbott responded to questions about the leak on commercial radio this morning:
"I know there's always some people in the business of politics who would rather pursue their own ambitions than the national interest but I am focussed with getting on with government.'
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said in response to the leaks that:
"I can't control what every member across the Liberal Party does but we can't get distracted by party internals away from doing the job we were elected to do."
The relationship between Mr Higginson and Mr Loughnane has been a point of contention within the party, with backbenchers concerned they could not go to the organisational wing of the party if they had concerns about the parliamentary leadership.
Mr Higginson had indicated to the party's leadership he may step down over the issue if it was resolved, The Australian reported this morning.
The reports come as a new poll shows Mr Abbott's new announcement, though lacking in detail, on national security seems to have bolstered the Coalition's position in the eyes of voters.
A Newspoll out this morning shows the Coalition rose four percentage points to 47% of voter support, while Labor's support dropped the same amount to 53% on the two-party preferred measure, in the past fortnight.
It shows on the primary vote, the Coalition and Labor are now neck and neck at 38% each, with the Coalition gaining three points and Labor losing three points, since the last Newspoll two weeks ago.