PM denies coordinated attack on Turnbull
PM denies coordinated attack on Turnbull

Tony Abbott says conservative commentators Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt are his friends but has disputed assertions their attacks on one-time leadership rival Malcolm Turnbull are part of a coordinated campaign.

The Prime Minister said criticism of politicians "goes with the territory", as did occasional mischief.

Jones and Bolt have both accused Mr Turnbull of being disloyal to the Prime Minister - an accusation that the Communications Minister has vigorously denied.

Mr Turnbull last week said Bolt, a News Corporation columnist, was unhinged and bordering on demented and yesterday struck back at Jones whom he accused of being a bomb thrower aiding the Labor Party.

"The thing that has distressed me this week is that people, yourself, Andrew Bolt in particular, have set out to suggest that there is dissention in the government that there are challenges to Tony’s leadership," Mr Turnbull told Jones yesterday.

Jones replied: "You have no hope ever of being the leader. You’ve got to get that into your head. No hope ever. But because of that you’re happy to throw a few bombs around that might blow up Abbott a bit. That’s what they’re saying."

Speaking in Paris last night, the Prime Minister attempted to dismiss the nastiness between two of his media allies and one of his Cabinet colleagues as "over-excited chatter".

"Alan is a friend of mine. Andrew Bolt is a friend of mine. I think they are both very significant commentators. They've got a lot to say, both of them have a lot to say," Mr Abbott said.

"I often agree with them, occassionally I don't agree with them. Alan is a formidable interlocutor whether he's for you or against you. He's always someone who's going to put on a very lively discussion and that's the way with me, that's the way with Malcolm. That's the way with everyone who goes on his show."

Mr Turnbull told ABC TV's 730 program last night that the attacks from Bolt and Jones came "out of the blue" and could be considered coordinated.

"It certainly - you could form that view. You could form that view. There was a series of events that people could come to that conclusion," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Abbott did not share this conclusion when asked if he thought the there was a concerted campaign by conservative commentators against Mr Turnbull.

"Lots of people in public life are the subjects of times of criticism, it goes with the territory," the PM said.

"The point I want to make is that I am very pleased to have Malcolm as a senior member of my Government and I know that Malcolm is very pleased to be a senior member of the Government.

"Occasionally people try to make mischief. That's life when you are in public life. Occasionally all sorts of things that have no foundation whasoever get bandied around but this is a strong, stable government doing a good job.

"This is a Government that is determined to deliver a better life to the people of Australia."

Mr Abbott also downplayed the prospect of any looming reshuffle, saying he did not lightly change his frontbench.

"I made hardly any changes in 2009. We made modest changes after the 2010 election, there were modest changes after the 2013 election because I believe that you pick the right person for the job and then leave them there to get on with it," he said.

The West Australian

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