Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s coalition colleagues are urging him to stop trying to rewrite history and be a team player after he sparked another outbreak of internal coalition infighting.
International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells reprimanded Mr Abbott after he released an alternative election manifesto and criticised the Turnbull government’s submarines program.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells – once considered an ally of Mr Abbott’s – seized on his claim earlier in June that the Paris Climate Agreement targets he devised as prime minister were “aspirational”.
“The renewable energy target came in under Tony, Paris was signed under Tony, he gave these commitments,” she told ABC Radio on Friday.
“To actually now say it was an aspiration when clearly his words, the documentation and everything clearly demonstrate it was an iron-clad commitment. You can’t rewrite history.”
As a backbencher, Mr Abbott was entitled to air his opinions, but as a former prime minister he carried a certain responsibility.
“If now he says that he was wrong when he was prime minister, well that’s a matter for him, but he had the opportunity to do a lot of things,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.
“But I would urge Tony not to try and rewrite history, because all it’s doing is damaging his credibility.”
Defence Minister Marise Payne, a moderate and Turnbull backer, also took a swipe at Mr Abbott, insisting there was no “I” in “team”.
“You’re either on it or you’re off it,” she told ABC radio.
“We all need to be on it to make sure Australia is governed by the coalition.”
Senator Payne rebuked Mr Abbott’s call for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, insisting he had never raised the matter with her.
“We want to ensure that we have sovereign capability over this extraordinarily important strategic military capability,” she said.
“To lease that, or to trade that out to another entity as has been suggested, I think would be very, very deleterious to our own sovereign capability.”