Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has offered a blunt assessment of political rival Tony Abbott’s relationship with his then chief of staff, Peta Credlin.
Mr Turnbull, who was Australia’s PM from 2015 to 2018 before he was ousted and replaced by current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, told ABC’s 7.30 program Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin’s relationship was “bizarre”.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Turnbull also called Peter Dutton “deluded” and labelled Mr Morrison a “control freak”.
“Well, I mean, you were really dealing with Peta and Peta was running the country and that was obvious, and dominating Abbott,” the former prime minister told 7.30’s Leigh Sales.
“So it was as though she felt, ‘I've created you, you're my creation’, and she felt she owned him. It was a bizarre – a truly bizarre – relationship.”
Mr Turnbull added Mr Abbott and his former chief of staff “destroyed their own government due to their own follies and then set out to destroy mine”.
Mr Abbott was ousted by Mr Turnbull in a leadership spill in 2015.
‘That’s his MO, right?’
After two failed attempts to win leadership by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in 2018, Mr Morrison eventually became prime minister.
Mr Turnbull said it was important to him that Mr Dutton did not become prime minister.
“He (Mr Morrison) is a much safer pair of hands than Peter Dutton by far and I always regarded him as my most likely successor,” he said.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison had supported him before he claimed leadership of the Coalition.
He added publicly while Mr Morrison had shown support for Mr Abbott before he was ousted, the now-PM had been getting numbers for Mr Turnbull to challenge in 2015.
“So, you know that’s his MO, right?” Mr Turnbull said of Mr Morrison.
“Again I know Scott very well, and he is a lifelong political operator and he is a control freak.”
An ‘absurd proposition’
The former PM said it was only “very late” in his leadership he realised Mr Dutton wanted control.
But he called Mr Dutton’s leadership ambitions an “absurd proposition” and accused Finance Minister Mathias Cormann of betraying him “in a shocking way”.
“I didn't imagine that he (Mr Dutton) was so deluded as to imagine that our political prospects would be advanced by a change of leadership, and especially to him,” he told 7.30.
Mr Turnbull suggested if Mr Dutton had become leader, Labor would currently be in government.
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