Four months after losing a leadership spill he instigated, Peter Dutton has broken his silence in an bitter spray at Malcolm Turnbull.
Calling the deposed prime minister spiteful and indecisive, the home affairs minister told Brisbane's The Sunday Mail that Mr Turnbull had brought about his own downfall through his lack of political nous.
"Malcolm had a plan to become prime minister but no plan to be prime minister," Mr Dutton said.
He criticised the former leader for actions he saw as undermining the Morrison government.
"I am the first to defend the legacy of the Turnbull government. Malcolm was strong on economic management, borders and national security, but Malcolm will trash his own legacy if he believes his position is strengthened by seeing us lose under Scott (Morrison),'' Mr Dutton said.
He excoriated Mr Turnbull for not supporting the Liberal Party's candidate in his old seat of Wentworth.
"Walking away from (his seat of) Wentworth and not working to have (Liberal Wentworth candidate) Dave Sharma elected was worse than any behaviour we saw even under (former Labor prime minister Kevin) Rudd."
Stating emphatically that he wasn't a stalking horse for former leader Tony Abbott or a right-wing "Bible basher", Mr Dutton said Mr Turnbull's poor management had lost the Libs 15 seats in the 2016 election.
He said that left the government "with a one-seat majority which just made the parliament unmanageable. We were paralysed."
Mr Dutton added that Mr Turnbull didn't have former Liberal PM John Howard's touch, judgment or ability to deliver the message.
"We went from three-word slogans under Tony (Abbott) to 3000 under Malcolm and our achievements weren't effectively communicated as a result," he told the paper.
"Countless opportunities to strengthen the government or nail [Labor leader Bill] Shorten passed us by because Malcolm couldn't make a decision.
"Malcolm is charming and affable but he doesn't have a political bone in his body and it's not a criticism, but without political judgment you can't survive in politics and he didn't."
The Morrison government did not want to comment on Sunday, leaving the home affairs minister to speak for himself.
People on Twitter were less reticent and mostly unkind about the senior federal government minister's political analysis.
They also lambasted Mr Dutton's ability to count to 43 - the latter a reference to his failure to secure numbers to support his bid to become prime minister in August.
Most tweets said Mr Dutton was the pot calling the kettle black but there were a few in support of the home affairs minister.
"Again, Peter Dutton doing what needs to be done," said one.
"The government's infighting continues," former federal Labor minister Craig Emerson tweeted, adding "they won't be wishing each other a happy new year."
Australian Associated Press
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