THE federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has told his MPs to behave like adults and to not take victory for granted after a week of ill discipline caused by an internal fight over foreign investment.
At the same time, the acting Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, has sought to assuage concerns inside caucus that Labor's poor showing in western Sydney at the weekend's local government elections showed the party's brand is still toxic, saying Mr Abbott's attack strategy had ''hit a brick wall''.
With the next federal election a year away, Mr Abbott read the riot act to the Coalition joint party room yesterday, saying just because the polls for the last 18 months indicated a landslide victory for the Coalition, it must not become complacent.
He was hoping to bring to an end the infighting over foreign investment caused when the Nationals spoke out against the approval to sell Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium.
''We have to show that we are the adults in the room,'' he said. ''It's perfectly OK for people to have different views. The challenge is how we handle those different views.''
In a pointed message to the Nationals, Mr Abbott said ''we all support foreign investment'', without which ''many things in this country would not exist''.
He singled out the rural airline Rex, which was revived due to Singaporean investment.
After public outbursts by the Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce, the Coalition shadow cabinet agreed to a parliamentary motion supporting foreign investment but demanding the government release the reasons the Foreign Investment Review Board approved the Cubbie sale.
This was agreed to only after the opposition spokesman on finance, Andrew Robb, rounded angrily on Senator Joyce during the shadow cabinet meeting.
In caucus, the NSW MPs Stephen Jones, Chris Hayes and John Murphy expressed concern for federal Labor's chances in western Sydney after the party's poor performance in the council elections, with Labor losing Islamic votes and suffering losses in Liverpool and Auburn.
Mr Swan said there were ''variable'' results for Labor in the west and said things would start to turn in Labor's favour in NSW, just as they were starting to move in Queensland because of a backlash against the Premier, Campbell Newman.
''We are getting clearer air on our agenda and more scrutiny of the other side,'' he said.