Malcolm Turnbull’s former chief-of-staff says she regularly heard her former boss use the c-word at work.
Peta Credlin, who ran Mr Turnbull’s office when he was Opposition Leader in 2008, has spoken out against the prime minister following a revelation he called his bitter rival Tony Abbott a ‘disloyal c***’ on board a VIP flight.
‘I worked for Malcolm Turnbull. He says he doesn’t use that language,’ she told Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt on Monday night.
‘Then I have to say it is wrong because he does. He certainly used it in the time I worked for him.’
Malcolm Turnbull’s former chief-of-staff Peta Credlin says her former boss used the c-word
Ms Credlin’s intervention comes following a report Mr Turnbull aggressively swore at Mr Abbott in July 2014 on a flight from Sydney to Canberra – only 14 months before he knifed him as prime minister.
Mr Turnbull has denied using that language.
The Liberal Party titans were aboard a VIP plane, flying to Canberra, when Mr Turnbull reportedly unloaded on Mr Abbott in front of staff and three senior cabinet ministers, The Daily Telegraph revealed.
Ms Credlin, who was also Mr Abbott’s chief-of-staff when he was prime minister, said Mr Turnbull had used bad language in front of uniformed stewards.
Before that epic spray, the politicians had been at a party in Sydney with former prime ministers John Howard and Paul Keating and billionaire media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes.
Malcolm Turnbull (pictured with wife Lucy) reportedly called Tony Abbott the c-word
‘You’re the most disloyal c*** I’ve ever met’,’ a witness told the newspaper of the rant.
‘He was affected by alcohol. He castigated the prime minister in front of his staff.’
Mr Turnbull, who was then communications minister, had told Mr Abbott he should resign during an angry exchange where he got quite close to the then prime minister’s face at the end of the flight, the source told News Corp.
In the presence of senior cabinet ministers Julie Bishop, Joe Hockey and George Brandis, Mr Turnbull also reportedly told Mr Abbott he was ‘hopeless’.
However, speaking on the Today show, deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop insisted the reported stoush between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott didn’t happen in front of her.
‘It certainly didn’t happen in my presence,’ Ms Bishop said.
Tony Abbott (pictured with wife Margie) was confronted on the VIP plane after a flight
A little over a year later, in September 2015, Mr Turnbull overthrew Mr Abbott in a Liberal Party room coup to become prime minister.
‘Anyone who thinks that Malcolm Turnbull woke up one night close to September 2015 and decided he wanted Tony Abbott’s job, let me tell you it started a long, long time earlier,’ Ms Credlin said.
Launching his leadership challenge, Mr Turnbull pointed out that Mr Abbott had lost 30 fortnightly Newspolls in a row.
However on July 15, 2014, during that fiery mid-air exchange, Mr Abbott’s Coalition Government had only consistently been behind Labor since April.
The latest revelation about Mr Turnbull’s behaviour comes as the latest Newspoll shows the Government trailing Labor for the 19th consecutive survey.
Malcolm Turnbull was on a VIP flight when he reportedly swore at then PM Tony Abbott
The latest opinion poll, published in The Australian on Monday, has Labor smashing the Coalition 53 per cent to 47 per cent after preferences, after a small recovery for the Turnbull Government.
Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott had been at a party in Sydney celebrating The Australian newspaper’s 50th anniversary before that July 2014 episode.
The political rivals, who both attended the University of Sydney during the 1970s, were catching a chartered flight back to Canberra for a parliamentary sitting week.
Mr Abbott had just collected his bag when Mr Turnbull confronted him.