Andrew Woodward, the Labor candidate for Tony Abbott's Sydney seat of Warringah, has been deemed "the Mark Latham of the northern beaches" after a series of outbursts criticising his competitors, as the race for the blue-ribbon seat turns ugly.
Woodward is among a diverse field of candidates contesting Warringah, pitted against Abbott, former reality TV host James Mathison, Nick Xenophon Team candidate Marie Rowland and Clara Williams Roldan of the Greens. He has been extremely vocal on Twitter in recent days, after the Greens decided to preference Mathison above him, decrying the Greens as "rats" and Mathison as a "stooge" for the Liberal Party.
Woodward's criticism of Mathison stems from an interview the former Australian Idol host gave to Radio National, where he said he would support the Liberals over Labor in the event of a hung parliament. Woodward posted around 20 tweets between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, criticising the Greens, Mathison, and a community group called Defeat Abbott who he claims have undermined the campaign to oust the former Prime Minister from Warringah, after Woodward was relegated down the Greens' preference list.
Williams Roldan announced that she would preference Mathison second and NXT's Rowland third, with Woodward at fourth place on her list. Woodward told The Huffington Post Australia that the Greens had reneged on a deal that they would preference each other second, and he was only informed of the change on Monday after he had printed 150,000 how to vote cards. Woodward's how to vote card places the Greens at two.
"They said they'd changed their minds. They said it was a Greens head office decision," Woodward said.
"It beggars belief. It's hypocritical, a sell out. One of the most disgusting pieces of political skullduggery I've seen from any party."
Williams Roldan denied to HuffPost Australia that a deal had been done to swap preferences.
"We had many conversations with many people about preferences. We had talked about a swap, but that was contingent on consensus with my party and the wider party in NSW. [Woodward] says it was a formal deal, it just wasn't. The closest I came was saying "I think we might do that'," she said.
Woodward went further in his criticism of Mathison while speaking to HuffPost Australia, slamming him for running on a centre-left platform -- Mathison has outlined progressive views on refugees, environment and climate change -- while pledging to support a Liberal government. Mathison's support comes despite pledging to preference Liberals last.
"To me, that's fraudulent. Youre putting up centre-left ideas, people vote for you on that, but you'll vote for the Turnbull government. Tony Abbott has Malcolm by the balls, they're going to keep implementing Abbott's policies if he's there or not there. It's deceptive and misleading conduct, I hate that kind of behaviour," Woodward said.
Woodward's tweets have gained the attention of Mathison, who responded in kind. Mathison compared him to Mark Latham, the former Labor leader with an infamous temper, and joked that Woodward's tweets were influenced by alcohol.
.@WarringahLabor dude, I told you not to drink and tweet.— James Mathison (@jamesmathison) June 14, 2016
The Defeat Abbott group also took aim.
Williams Roldan has not responded on Twitter, but has retweeted a follower who said it was a "smart decision from the Greens to preference James Mathison over Labor". Speaking to HuffPost Australia, she said Woodward's comments made her "disappointed", and denied Woodward's claims.
"I find this political culture so uncomfortable, where you start flinging insults personally, rather than having a policy dialogue. I was a bit disappointed in what is a very important election that he dragged it down to this nasty, muddy level," she said.
Woodward said he stood by his online comments, citing frustration over "amateurs" who he claims have derailed a rare chance to oust Abbott from his seat.
"They are the Green rats in the ranks. They have ratted. Mathison is a stooge. If he was true to his values, he would support a minority Labor government," he said.
"They've blown up the campaign here. That's the farce. Do I get angry about that? Hell yes. We had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get rid of Abbott, the stars were aligning, and these amateurs have blown it up through meddling. It's shameful."
HuffPost Australia has contacted Mathison for comment.