Tony Abbott‘s extended run of bad press has continued this weekend as two senior Liberal Party figures have criticised his politics and personality.
Retiring Liberal Senator Sue Boyce called the Prime Minister “a sexist” and said her party had been using “dog whistling” tactics to make the case for its asylum seeker policies, while former Liberal leader John Hewson called the recent budget “unfair” and “inconsistent”.
Ms Boyce dropped the burn in a frank exit interview, in which she described Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech as “brilliant”. But she said Ms Gillard had used the wrong word to describe the current PM: “I think it would have been more accurate if she had called him a sexist… But singling [Mr Abbott] out as a sexist was not reasonable either.” She said the Prime Minister was one of Parliament’s many “subtle” sexists.
She also suggested the Government saw “dog whistling” tactics as essential to win support for its hardline asylum seeker policies but that she “would like to see us behaving more humanely”.
Meanwhile, John Hewson accused Mr Abbott – who worked on his staff in the lead-up to the 1993 election – of lacking vision, saying “There’s no clear, consistent message, other than, ‘We have to cut and cut more and more just to get the budget numbers’, not with any reform purpose. It’s unfair and it’s inconsistent. A bit of vision is what’s really called for.”
The former investment banker and adviser to the IMF said the Abbott Government had promised budget fairness but failed to deliver: “They raised expectations that the budget would be fair, but it it’s very inequitable. They said everyone would share the burden, but they clearly didn’t except for the cosmetic 2 per cent levy” on those making over $180,000 a year.
It’s another ominous sign for the PM, who’s been ignoring rumblings of a leadership challenge for weeks now. Just keep refreshing that #libspill hashtag.
Image via Stefan Postles for Getty Images News