Senior Liberals have defended Tony Abbott against claims of impropriety after he admitted to colleagues visiting a cancer clinic to justify charging taxpayers for a trip to Melbourne for a fundraiser the night before.
Government MPs remain gobsmacked by the Prime Minister's admission to the joint partyroom meeting on Tuesday.
One Liberal yesterday recalled Mr Abbott saying: "Macca, I had to arrange something to cover me for entitlements."
He had been responding to disaffected former minister Ian Macdonald who had berated Mr Abbott for being an hour late for a meeting of Liberals and Nationals in Canberra.
Mr Abbott attended a party fundraiser in Melbourne on Monday night and flew back on a RAAF jet to Canberra on Tuesday after visiting the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The Prime Minister's office said all travel was within rules governing parliamentary entitlements.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott needed to explain himself.
"I think what is most telling about these reports is that there are Liberal Party members leaking against the PM," he said.
"A party and a leader that cannot govern itself cannot govern Australia."