"You've gotta be fair dinkum with the Australian people and it looks like that's not been true of Christopher Pyne".
To set the scene, Christopher Pyne holds up a mirror to Christopher Pyne.
Abbott lashes out at Pyne as damaging Lib split re-emerges
A damaging split within the Liberal Party has re-emerged as former prime minister Tony Abbott accuses Christopher Pyne of being disloyal and warns any moves to dump the government’s plebiscite policy would be a “breach of faith” with the public.
Mr Pyne, the Defence Industry Minister and one of the Liberal’s most senior moderate MPs, has sparked divisions after reportedly telling colleagues at a federal council after-party that gay marriage would happen “sooner than everyone thinks”.
The claim was rejected by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison, who said the government had not “moved away” from a plebiscite, while Mr Abbott used the comments to hit out at “factional string-pulling”.
Malcolm Turnbull, who supports gay marriage and favours a free vote in parliament, adopted the plebiscite policy in a bid to appease conservative MPs when he ousted Mr Abbott.
Legislation to set up the plebiscite was voted down by Labor, the Greens and some independents in November.
“On this question of same-sex marriage, which I gather was very much a part of (Mr Pyne’s) speech, we took a policy to the election, it was a very clear policy that there would be no change without a plebiscite,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.
“To dump the plebiscite, to do anything without a plebiscite would be a breach of faith with the people.”
In divisive comments leaked to Sky News host and News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt, Mr Pyne reportedly told members of the Left on Friday night that the moderate faction was “in the winner’s circle” but had to “deliver a couple of things”.
“One of those we’ve got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country,” Mr Pyne said.
“We’re going to get it. I think it might even be sooner than everyone thinks. And your friends in Canberra are working on that outcome.”
Mr Pyne also reportedly celebrated the success of the Liberal Party’s Left faction.
“Two years ago … Malcolm Turnbull was the communications minister and now he’s the Prime Minister,” he said. “I would say that our fortunes are pretty good at the moment. And most of your senior cabinet ministers — George Brandis, Marise Payne, yours truly — quite a few of us are very senior ministers in a Turnbull government.
“Now there was a time when people said it wouldn’t happen, but George and I kept the faith. We voted for Malcolm Turnbull in every ballot he’s ever been in.”
Bolt says he will air the full recording on his Sky News show at 7pm tonight.
Mr Abbott seized on Mr Pyne’s “confession” that he had backed Mr Turnbull all the way, saying it appeared that “one of our number has been caught out”.
“If you are a member of the cabinet, you’ve got to be loyal. Christopher Pyne was not just a member of my cabinet, he was actually in the leadership team and it’s important you show loyalty. If he’s to be believed on Friday night that loyalty was never there, which is incredibly disappointing,” Mr Abbott said.
“You’ve got to be fair dinkum with the Australian people and it looks like that’s not been true of Christopher.”
Here's Turnbull on 10 October 2015.
Here's a podcast Jason Morrison and I did on the day of the last NSW Liberal State Conference - that would be the Liberal Party Without Factions According to Malcolm.