CANBERRA -- Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned Cabinet Ministers to improve discipline in the wake of a bruising week of open warfare over the way forward on same sex marriage and concerns over poor polling.
Abbott attempted to pull his leadership team together during a Cabinet meeting last night and as he addressed this morning’s joint Coalition party room.
Cabinet Ministers were reportedly warned to "stay on script or else."
A Liberal backbencher warned that marginal seat holders were being “sacrificed” while Ministers fought.
She also raised concerns that colleagues had not been as “collegial” as they should have been over the past few weeks.
The Prime Minister addressed the sentiment, telling the joint party room that all MPs and Senators, from the Cabinet down, must be disciplined, “the onus is on all of us, but we owe a particular duty to marginal seat holders not to let you down.”
Leadership rumblings are again circulating, with reports of Liberal “foot soldiers” out getting soundings on the Prime Minister’s recent performance.
Some Ministers have been seen as “going off script” recently, including the remarkable accusation from Education Minister Christopher Pyne that the Tony Abbott had “branch stacked” the special party room meeting on same sex marriage with Nationals MPs and Senators.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten says a serious of "disastrous captain's picks" has left the Abbott Government paralysed.
But, Abbott hit back in parliament, "Yet another piece of empty bombast. Yet another piece of empty bombast from a Leader of the Opposition who has no answers, no answers for the questions facing our country."
It is not the first time this year that the Prime Minister has had to address Cabinet discipline.
Less than three months ago, the Prime Minister confronted Cabinet Ministers over serious national security leaks in what he called a “come to Jesus moment.” Senior colleagues were warned of the "personal and political" consequences, including demotion, if caught divulging secret Cabinet processes.
In February, Tony Abbott survived a self-described "near death experience", when a motion for a leadership spill failed to get up.