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Turnbull hits out at 'paranoid' critics

Politics

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused his critics of “paranoia” after being challenged for contacting independent MP Kerryn Phelps.

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An unnamed Liberal source claims Turnbull is “consumed by bringing down the government” after exiting the Sydney seat of Wentworth, which was won by Phelps, The Australian reported today.

“Blaming others for the consequences of your own actions is a common symptom of paranoia. Imagining ‘invisible’ people are out to get you is also a classic symptom,” Turnbull tweeted in response.

The accusation levelled at Turnbull comes amid an internal crisis within the federal Liberal Party, which fears losing government at next year’s election.

A number of factors have been blamed for its recent polling woes, including the loss of Wentworth after a 19 per cent swing against the Liberals, and the party’s wipe-out in the Victorian state election.

Both issues have been linked to voter dissatisfaction with the way Turnbull was pushed out of office in August.

While Turnbull has been helping Phelps, her office says this has been limited to ensuring a smooth transition.

Labor spokesman Chris Bowen said there is no issue with such an offer of support.

“If it’s true Malcolm Turnbull is being a sensible, rational, grown-up and providing some assistance to his successor, and providing a bit of a handover, I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Meanwhile, a conservative federal Liberal MP has ruled out quitting his party and running as an independent if he loses preselection to recontest his Sydney seat.

Craig Kelly is facing a concerted push by moderate members of the Liberal Party who believe they have the numbers to blast him out of the seat of Hughes.

But Kelly says he is “absolutely” confident of being re-endorsed as the Liberal candidate, and will stick with the Morrison government through to the next election.

“I certainly won’t be defecting from the Liberal Party,” he told ABC radio today.

John Ruddick, a former right-wing member of the NSW Liberal Party, believes Kelly is guaranteed to lose the preselection battle.

Ruddick is urging him to “bite the bullet” and sit as an independent.

But Kelly says he has a contract with the people of Hughes.

“When I put my name on the ballot paper last year as a Liberal member, I entered into a contract to serve through this term as a Liberal member,” he said.

“That is what I am proud to do, I will continue to do it.”

Julia Banks quit the Liberal Party earlier this week to sit as an independent, making the minority Morrison government’s grip on power even more precarious.

Were Kelly to defect to the crossbench, it would be a near-fatal body blow.

– AAP

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