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Cabinet minister accuses Abbott of aiding Labor

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A senior cabinet minister has delivered the strongest response yet to Tony Abbott over the former prime minister's constant criticisms of the Coalition government.

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Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg offered a scathing assessment of his former boss when asked whether Abbott was proving a help or a hindrance.

Frydenberg says the former prime minister must ask himself who benefits most from his endless critiques of the government.

“Is it the party members – who want to see a continuation of the Liberal government – the answer is no,” he told ABC radio today.

“Is it my parliamentary colleagues – who want to see them retain their own seats and the government stay in office – the answer is no.”

Nor was it the Australian people, who wanted to see the government talk about health and education, protecting people with disability and national security.

“Or is it Bill Shorten, the alternative prime minister? He’s the one who’s benefiting most, unfortunately, from Tony Abbott’s constant interventions,” Frydenberg said.

Abbott this week told party faithful the Liberals were at “a bit of a low ebb” and described the Coalition’s “taxing and spending” budget as second best.

The former prime minister believes Malcolm Turnbull appreciates his regular commentary as a backbencher, insisting the last thing he wants to do is be difficult.

Turnbull repeatedly refused to answer questions about Mr Abbott during a radio interview on Wednesday or even utter his predecessor’s name.

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce gave his old boss a clip around the ears, reminding him the need to negotiate over key budget measures existed when he was in charge.

“I’ll be quite frank, we’ve had a lot more success with this one, and more power to the hand of people such as (Finance Minister) Mathias Cormann and negotiations he’s been doing in the Senate,” Joyce said.

“And the fact that the prime minister has the capacity to negotiate things through the Senate – that’s why we are getting delivery.”

Joyce would not say how long the coalition government could tolerate Abbott eviscerating his own side.

“That’s a question for Tony,” he said.

“He was the prime minister of the nation – an incredible honour – and he knows more than most the best thing for our nation is to have a Nationals-Liberal coalition government to try and guide the way forward.”

– AAP

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