Barnaby Joyce has refused to comment on Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams’ claims that Tony Abbott is giving the opposition a “free ride” to power as divisions continue to plague the Coalition.
The New England MP said any accusations about the “Lord Voldemort of the Liberal Party”, a remark made last week by acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, – were questions that should be put directly to Mr Abbott.
But unlike his Nationals colleague and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Senator Williams did dare to speak Mr Abbott’s name when contacted by Fairfax Media on Thursday.
“Shorten’s getting a free ride into the prime minister’s position with no retention on his policies because of the constant focus on the division in the Liberal Party,” he said.
Wacka said Mr Abbott needed to be more of a team player.
“Division is death in politics,” he said.
But whether it’s witchcraft, or the work of a Harry Potter villain – the Libs have copped a hit at the polls.
Labor’s lead has widened this week ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure, 54 per cent to 46, according to an Essential poll.
“I feel sorry for the MPs that are on very small margins in their electorates,” Senator Williams said.
“They are going to lose their seats in the next election if this division keeps going.”
But Mr Joyce turned a blind eye to the infighting, to focus on policy and what his electorate is achieving under the Coalition.
“You tell me what Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek’s plan is for the New England,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’ll tell you mine … building inland rail and driving economy in the North West of our electorate.
“Over $1 billion of investment in renewables in Glen Innes.
“Our plan for Armidale, moving the APVMA in and hundreds of jobs out of Canberra into Armidale.”
Mr Joyce said the in-house arguments were irrelevant and he would continue to put his focus on what the government is building towards in his New England electorate and across the country.
“I’m going to concentrate on the things that continue to make people’s lives better,” he said.
“If other people want to talk about who’s who in the wooden canoe, and what had what for breakfast, they can do that in a coffee shop.
“It’s kind of irrelevant … I’ll just continue on doing my job.”
Senator Williams agreed. “Things are going really well in regional Australia,” he said.
“Let’s get back on the job of addressing the issues that people are concerned about.”