No, Peta Credlin Is Not A Victim — So Get Over It

AMID FALLOUT from former Liberal staffer Niki Savva’s book — exposing the internal dysfunctional of the Abbott government, in which Chief of Staff Peta Credlin was central — great effort has been made to destroy Savva’s reputation and beatify Credlin, with questions of whether Credlin had an affair with Tony Abbott used as a pretext. Savva made no allegation; Credlin is no victim. Those seeking to airbrush the record should get over it.

In some respects, the furious public debate that has erupted over the character of Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin — over the reporting in Niki Savva’s book that some in the Coalition wondered openly behind the scenes whether the pair were having an affair — aptly sums up everything that was wrong with the Abbott government, and why Abbott had to be removed from office if he wouldn’t get rid of Credlin.

We spoke about the Savva book — which I characterised as a “shit sandwich” served up to Abbott and Credlin that really changed nothing — a week ago, and rather predictably (if tediously) it speaks volumes for the level of public debate, and the generally far lower calibre of some of the people gaining prominence in the public affairs of this country since the Howard years, that the only aspect of the book that remains topical at all is the question of whether or not Abbott and Credlin had had an affair.

As I said last week, some might find the suggestion salacious and/or titillating, and if they do, then so be it: whilst I declined to offer an opinion (which I now regret in some respects) I don’t believe for a minute that Abbott and Credlin are or were engaged in an affair, but to be perfectly honest, had they been, I couldn’t have cared less beyond the obvious inappropriate nature of such a liaison in the context of the respective positions they held, which I noted at that time.

Miranda Devine — writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Wednesday — correctly noted that whilst Abbott and Credlin would have found it unpleasant to be accosted by reporters demanding to know whether they had had an affair, the question itself was largely irrelevant: the central tenets of Savva’s book were the incredibly destructive management style of Credlin and the blithe, almost passive tolerance by Abbott of the political carnage it created.

I have spent a lot of time over the past few years talking at length with people deeply enmeshed in the machine workings of the Liberal Party (plural, several, multiple, more than one, spread across five states, can I make it any clearer that we’re not talking about someone with an isolated gripe?), and as a sideline to the main act — the unbelievable political and likely electoral damage inflicted upon itself by the Abbott government — there ran a parallel background conversation between 2013 and 2015 grounded in confusion, white-hot fury, and disbelief: that all fingered Credlin as the root of most (or all) of the trouble the government encountered almost daily was a given, but why did Abbott refuse to recognise the problem when it was right under his nose? Moreover, why did he not only flatly refuse to do anything about it, but allow several of his senior ministers to be trotted out publicly to defend her?

Nobody could comprehend — let alone believe — someone as intelligent as Abbott could tolerate the presence of an insidious and wantonly toxic influence at the epicentre of his government, who — even this week, as she sought to publicly “defend” herself — saw fit to note she had served as deputy Chief of Staff under Malcolm Turnbull. But the bit conveniently omitted from that story was that Turnbull had demoted her to the lesser role of Deputy Chief of Staff, which was an astute and prescient personnel adjustment whose importance went unnoticed at the time.

Ironically, it was Credlin’s effectiveness in lesser staffing roles — and, not least, in galvanising the opposition leader’s office under Abbott before the 2013 election — that made her presence as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister possible in the first place, and whilst some who worked with her in those earlier incarnations have also publicly attested in recent days to finding her problematic to work with, I am prepared to give credit where it is due.

But the evidence she was out of her depth as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister was everywhere: in the dysfunctional strategic and tactical manoeuvres of the Abbott government; in the fatally defective “communications” effort that government deployed; in the flawed policy framework (outside of “axing the carbon tax, ending the mining tax, stopping the boats” etc) it pursued, most notably through a suicidal and poorly targeted budget in 2014; and through its utter inability to articulate aspirations for broad economic, taxation and labour market reform, which are measures this country is crying out for if the budgetary malaise of almost the past decade, and if impediments to continued economic expansion, are to be removed.

And the reason this evidence was strewn as far as they eye could see is simple: all of it — the recruitment of personnel, the oversight of decisions, and meddling at every conceivable level of government right down to the shitkickers hired to shuffle paper in the electorate offices of backbenchers, everything — was tightly and directly controlled by Credlin.

As I have opined in the past, had this unorthodox model of administration worked, few would quibble. The problem is that it didn’t.

Credlin has, in the past, suggested that she only did what Abbott told her to do; at face value I find this incredible, and the expectation that anyone in Abbott’s shoes would instruct a subordinate to institute such a rigorous program of micromanagement is an extraordinary thing to invite fair-minded and capably intelligent people to believe.

But if we are to accept that everything Credlin did was purely the act of executing her master’s wishes, then either her movements were borne of Prime Ministerial brilliance whose integrity she singularly failed to translate into successful action at best or, at worst (and as I suspect), she was given free rein to virtually run the government as she saw fit, and completely fucked it up. The substance of the Savva book substantially verifies this latter contention, as do all of the bits and pieces I have been told by inside folk over the past couple of years.

As I remarked to an associate yesterday, Abbott basically made Credlin the Prime Minister of Australia: and if she or anyone else close to her is wondering why she has been singled out, it is necessary to look only as far as the politically ruinous outcomes that were constantly generated on her watch, which would have seen the Coalition beaten at this year’s election unless drastic action to alter the government’s course was taken, and which ultimately led to the termination of Abbott’s tenure in the top job — and of Credlin’s in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The point is this: with evidence that the way things were being done was wrong beginning to mount from the minute the Coalition took office, and Credlin squarely in the thick of the growing political damage and the increasing likelihood the Coalition would suffer an election loss as a result, nobody could work out why in hell Abbott — no idiot — couldn’t and/or wouldn’t perceive where the root of the problem lay, let alone continue to tolerate its malignant presence in his office.

It was in virtual desperation, and after more orthodox lines of thought had been exhausted, that some in Canberra began to look for more sinister or disreputable motives. Did Credlin have something on Abbott? Were they having an affair? Had (federal Liberal Party Director) Brian Loughnane — her husband — somehow guaranteed her tenure? Was it something else? There was no sensible explanation for Abbott’s apparent determination to cling like glue to the very element of his government that was presiding over its steady evolution into a train wreck. What was it?

Savva didn’t accuse the pair of having an affair; she merely articulated the fact that the thought had occurred to many in the Coalition when every other possible reason for Credlin’s continued presence had been considered and exhausted. She reported in her book that the question had been asked of Abbott. She also reported his denial. It is, unfortunately, beyond reasonable to expect Savva to be held responsible for others directly spreading accusations of an affair as a result of the publication of her book. But that is what has occurred.

In this sense, there seems to be a culture within the Abbott cabal — that persists even now — that Credlin was not only an asset to the government whose stewardship was its ticket to sunlit uplands (to borrow from a Churchillian phrase), but a figure beyond any degree whatsoever of criticism or reproach.

In this sense, it has been offensive in the extreme to regularly witness the accusations of sexism and misogyny that have emanated from Credlin and Abbott, or the utter bullshit that if Abbott’s Chief of Staff had been P-E-T-E-R Credlin rather than P-E-T-A, he would be seen as tough and decisive.

Such a hypothetical specimen would best be described as a bloke who was useless at his job: and if Abbott would have fired such a fellow, it underlines even further the enigmatic question of why Credlin (the real one) was untouchable to the point he allowed it to destroy his Prime Ministership.

Even former Prime Minister John Howard — who, one suspects, has a better idea about these things than just about every other journalist and commentator who has published on the matter of Credlin — has now admitted he advised Abbott to sack her. It was sound advice, proffered by a good many people, both publicly and privately, whose only concern was for Abbott to make a political success of his government.

That Abbott rejected each and every entreaty, made in good faith and with his own best interests at heart, speaks volumes — and adds to the question of just why it was Credlin was so special even further.

I think the simplest explanation is that there are two universes in play here: one, called the real world, where most of us live at least most of the time; and two, a little bubble around Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, and perhaps a small handful of others to a lesser extent, that was informed and guided by paranoia, rank amateurism, and sheer delusion.

Whether she likes it or not, Credlin’s reputation — and her CV — are going to have to weather whatever involuntary hit they sustain for her role at the epicentre of one of the most dysfunctional governments this country has ever seen; as anyone who has lost a job or otherwise not been a fit for a role they’ve accepted and had to leave would attest, such failures don’t make you a bad person. Generally, they do not mean you are incompetent. They are not necessarily a reflection on your intelligence, or your judgement in the ordinary sense, or your capacity to discharge complex responsibilities effectively. They simply mean that something didn’t work out, and in Credlin’s case, whilst I remain a scathing critic who is incandescent with anger over the fruits of her handiwork, I don’t wish her ill fortune or hope she fails to find something better to do with her time.

I have heard that privately, she is a great chick, to use the vernacular: very funny, very witty, very cutting, quite charming, and possessed of refreshingly intelligent interests. It is a side I will never see of her, of course, for it is well known that to dare to criticise her is to make an enemy. Even so, in the interests of balance, those acknowledgements should nevertheless be made.

But the idea that she should be deified, beatified, and held out as unimpeachably faultless is not only incorrect, but every bit as offensive as the suggestion I might be a sexist because I’m a critic of such a high-profile woman who simply wasn’t up to the last job she held.

And the notion she is some sort of victim — just because, in the absence of any more immediately plausible explanation as to why Tony Abbott refused to heed a wealth of good advice and deny every objective observation available by refusing to dismiss her, some asked the question whether they were having an affair — is perverse.

In the final analysis, what went on at the heart of the Abbott government beggared belief, and defied just about every standard of orthodox political judgement in the book. People at or near the centre of the Abbott government were almost desperate to know what it was that made Credlin so invaluable that the government itself could be sacrificed to protect her if it came to that. It was inevitable that at some point, someone would ask the question. But just like every other possible reason for her continued presence that was canvassed, that one turned out not to be the reason either.

Had Savva not reported the discussions and the thinking that was going on when the Abbott government began to unravel, she would have left herself open to the charge that she had sanitised the events she sought to record; that she had been complicit in whatever it was that made the cancerous presence of an unsuitable adviser a non-negotiable; or at the very minimum, some partisan whose “tell-all” nonetheless sought to shield the Liberal Party. You can’t have it both ways. Savva was damned if she did — and damned if she didn’t.

Peta Credlin isn’t a victim: and whilst she might feel bitter about losing her job, or aggrieved that so may functional, intelligent people refused to either buy into or be swayed by the bullshit regime she instituted at the heart of an elected government — or delude herself with the same Abbott sentiment that her impact was one of virtual perfection — she hasn’t been torn down by reasonable folk on the basis of her gender, and she doesn’t stand accused of “fucking the boss” even if some wondered, in absolute desperation and rage, whether that was the reason she was still there because there was literally no other plausible explanation for her continued presence.

And anyone who thinks she’s a victim — whether it’s Abbott, Credlin herself, or anyone around them — should take a good, long hard look at themselves, for the defective judgement in this equation is not being exercised by those who observe them.

Get over it.

 

Credlin, Abbott: Savva’s Shit Sandwich Changes Nothing

SALACIOUS STORIES of an affair between Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin, and revelations by those who fell foul of the ex-PM’s notoriously bellicose Chief of Staff, may titillate; even so, they are inconsequential to the ongoing government beyond underlining why it exists, and merely reinforce reasons Abbott was dumped in September. Niki Savva’s book on these matters is essentially a shit sandwich served to key protagonists that changes nothing.

I’m not going to dismiss — as Cabinet minister (and Malcolm Turnbull supporter) Christopher Pyne did this morning — the new book by former Howard government staffer and journalist Niki Savva as “a fizzer;” Pyne has a vested interest in the book being as widely ignored as possible, and in any case, to suggest Savva’s tome was exclusively aimed at causing some kind of detonation is grotesque: it is no less worthy an effort than, say, the ABC’s The Killing Season, or more benign examinations of past governments such as The Howard Years.

By the same token, any suggestion it should invite adverse opinion or any kind of backlash against the continuing Turnbull government would be equally perverse; Savva’s work is valid in recording past events and exposing what many of us knew, and which great effort was invested in hiding from public eyes at the time, but its subject has no bearing on the merits or otherwise of the ongoing Coalition government.

And nor should it.

First things first: The Australian and other Murdoch press portals are reporting heavily on the Savva book — provocatively entitled The Road To Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government — today, and readers can access some of that coverage here and here; it is also carrying an “exclusive excerpt,” and those with subscriptions to News content may peruse that here.

Perhaps because I had already heard most of the allegations and stories that have surfaced from Savva’s book thus far, I don’t think the press coverage the book is receiving today is particularly surprising.

That said, however, I do see enormous value in the lid being blown off a murky cesspool that a ridiculous degree of energy was committed to ensuring never came to public awareness, for it is many years since Australia has had a government as poorly and erroneously managed as Tony Abbott’s, and it is in the national interest to ensure the situation is not repeated.

Frankly, the suggestion that Abbott and Credlin were having an affair — whether they were or weren’t — is of little interest to me other than to observe that the utter stupidity of an inappropriate relationship between the holder of the most senior elected office in the land and its most powerful public servant would be unprecedented, and to note the deleterious effects such a liaison would have on issues of governance even if the relationship did not, to use the vernacular, go pear-shaped.

And despite having heard conflicting stories privately, arguing both that the duo did have an affair and that they did not, I offer no opinion either way and to be quite blunt, I don’t really care.

What I have in fact cared about was the manner in which Credlin — appointed to the most senior unelected political office in Australia after the 2013 election — seemingly left no stone unturned in a surreal endeavour to fuck it up completely; as we have discussed in this column many times, political and parliamentary strategy and tactics, staffing appointments, government communications, and even policy decisions (among other things) were all matters the micromanaging Credlin wielded tremendous authority and an exclusive veto over, egged on and sanctioned by the Prime Ministerial imprimatur of Abbott.

What I also cared about — and found deeply and profoundly disturbing — was the apparent blindness, to the point of wanton delusion, on Abbott’s part insofar as the damage this influence was causing to the government, to the Liberal Party, and ultimately to the country, as a government elected to fix things not only proved incapable of doing so, but seemed determined through ineptitude and torpor to maximise the effects of its failures to cause as much political and electoral trouble as it could possibly engineer.

In this sense, the stories in Savva’s book — detailing the bullying, abusive, domineering, and vindictive modus operandi of Ms Credlin in her role as an aide to Abbott — pass a clear public interest test irrespective of whether figures like Pyne like it or not.

Governing Australia is not some merry pantomime, or an excuse to sit around singing kum-ba-ya; yet neither is it an excuse to indulge in the worst aspects of human behaviour and untrammelled wanton malevolence.

Yet even the malignant, near-monstrous fashion in which Credlin chose to conduct herself at times — again, with the explicit sanction of her Prime Minister — would justify little criticism had her methods worked, and had the Abbott government proved to be a political and publicly successful enterprise.

Regrettably, it was nothing of the sort: and with the breadth of the remit both handed to Credlin and arrogated to herself, the blame for that rests almost singularly on her amply broad shoulders.

Singularly, that is, except for Abbott himself, who stands condemned for allowing such a disastrous experiment in public administration to ever unfold in the first place.

I have seen some criticism today of Savva; opportunists who think that because she was enthusiastic about the prospect of an Abbott government before it was elected, that her words should be dismissed and her book ignored on the basis she is a hypocrite.

In response, I not only defend Niki in the strongest possible terms, but point out that one of the great tragedies of the Abbott government is that it let down millions of Australians who voted for a mainstream conservative government to enact mainstream conservative solutions to Australia’s problems, and who received a dysfunctional, paranoid and largely useless regime in return whose ideas were misdirected and whose inability to properly communicate what it was doing — or to deal strategically with the assault it faced in the Senate — meant a return to Labor government at this year’s election had become a certainty six months ago.

That, too, is something Abbott and Credlin, and perhaps Credlin’s husband, former federal Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane, can and must be blamed for.

But there are many, many people — Savva is one, and so, as readers know, am I — who were determined to provide Abbott with every possible support, and who gradually turned away in horror; in my own case, I had been a vocal supporter of Abbott for almost 20 years before he won the 2013 election, and that support leached away in increments to the point where I could no longer support him and was insistent he be replaced.

Much of the reason for that emanated from Credlin, but unlike many who seek to crucify the staffer to protect the reputation of the fallen leader, I recognise the monster of Credlin lived only because the master Abbott allowed it to exist at all.

And I supported Abbott in the leadership ballot of September last year only on account of a long-standing opposition to Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal leader — underpinned by grave reservations about his judgement and capacity for the role that are starting to be proven correct — and only after exploring other potential leadership permutations that featured neither Abbott nor Turnbull at all.

It was barely a lukewarm endorsement, and with the insidious Credlin a certain inclusion had he beaten Turnbull, Abbott probably didn’t even deserve that.

So let’s not hear any more of the assertion that Savva’s views are invalid because, in the end, she simply changed her mind. After all, based on the Abbott-Credlin experience, she was given no alternative.

I think it is imperative that the Australian public knows exactly what went on in the corridors of power in Canberra during the two years Abbott was Prime Minister, and in this sense, Savva’s book is not only critically important, but is compelling. I urge all readers to avail themselves of a copy at their earliest opportunity, as I will myself.

The control-and-conflict method of governance deployed by Credlin on Abbott’s say-so is the direct reason Malcolm Turnbull is Prime Minister today, and I do not think it’s unreasonable to assert that the country as a whole is the poorer for having endured the experience.

Turnbull’s government has its problems. That is a matter for another time. But what went on during Abbott’s watch has nothing to do with those, and nobody should hold the continuing government accountable for the misdemeanours of its predecessor.

Savva’s book is a detailed record of a story Abbott, Credlin, and those closest to them never wanted to get out: fended off with outrageous suggestions of “sexism” and “misogyny” and the absurd proposition on Abbott’s part that he couldn’t do his job without Credlin, Australians should know just how poor the best efforts of this duo really were: and if revelations of Credlin spoon-feeding Abbott in an Italian restaurant in Melbourne, or subsequently nuzzling his shoulder and complaining she was tired, are titillating to some people then so be it.

If the odious truth of Credlin’s idea of management is repugnant even to the hardened and the experienced — and she and Abbott are crucified for it — then again, so be it.

But ultimately, this book is a shit sandwich served up to the key protagonists, and if Abbott, Credlin and their acolytes — who failed the trust placed in them, and who nearly destroyed the opportunity provided to the Liberal Party to govern — find little appetite for its contents, then that’s just too bad.

Buon Appetito.

 

Credlin’s Way: Abbott Government’s Horror Show Rolls On Unhindered

TODAY’S ARTICLE deals with an old-fashioned monster story, or would do if the storyline were found in a fiction book rather than at the epicentre of federal government; it deals — once again — with the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, and evidence that not only has the behaviour of the PMO that contributed to the recent Liberal leadership spill attempt continued despite Credlin’s assumption of a low public profile, but intensified.

Time permitting, I will be back this evening to talk about an economic and infrastructure policy issue that is near to my heart, but something has appeared in the press this morning that I cannot allow to pass without comment in light of the events of the past six weeks and the villain who dwells at their epicentre.

It centres — once again — on the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, and the influence she apparently continues to unabatedly wield over the Abbott government; since a week or two after the abortive leadership spill Credlin has taken to lying low, out of the public eyeline, and so much so that I have heard some folk who follow matters political openly ponder what all the fuss over Credlin was about in the first place.

But a leopard does not change its spots, and a monster — even one wounded, chastened, or humiliated in momentary defeat — does not retreat to its lair to ruminate over personal transformations or sea changes; rather, it sits in the dark, regaining and consolidating its strength and planning its next attack, which is what makes the matter at hand today so interesting — and so ominous.

Former senior Howard government staffer Niki Savva (who, of all people, should know) relates an episode in her weekly column in The Australian today in which a text message was sent by Credlin was sent to Senate President Stephen Parry last week, seeking to verify in what can only be described as inquisitorial terms whether reports that Parry had criticised her at a state executive meeting were true.

It also alluded to “queries” from journalists to the effect that there were too many Tasmanians in leadership positions within the Abbott government, and as Savva tells the story, the message was received by Parry — a Taswegian — and those around him as a thinly veiled but explicit threat despite the “friendly” terms it was couched in.

The imputation is quite clear: if it was true that Parry had dared to criticise Credlin in an internal organisational forum within the Liberal Party, the option to remove him from his position was one he should be aware had occurred to those who might be in a position to act upon it.

And this, whilst at first glance seemingly removed from the world of budgets and Senate hostility and press conferences, is something that ought to concern anyone with an interest in appropriate and rigorous notions of governance, well away from Canberra and with nothing to do with the Liberal Party at all except an inclination to vote for it.

This column has been (and continues to be) a trenchant critic of Peta Credlin, and whilst I am comfortable for the time being that Tony Abbott continues as Prime Minister, that position remains very much predicated on Credlin’s departure from both the PMO and any sinecure of influence or management over the government altogether.

We have discussed snapshots of the case against Credlin at length over the past few months, and readers who wish to avail themselves of a refresher should access the “Peta Credlin” tag in the tag cloud to the right of this article for a selection of others that detail these: I’m not going back today over ground that has been well covered already.

But Savva’s piece in The Australian this morning shows that whilst Credlin may lately have removed herself from public view, her presence — and its counter-intuitive and politically destructive influence — remains very much alive.

Liberal Party state executive meetings (and other internal forums within the party) provide the opportunity for rank-and-file members of the party (or in this case, their representatives on the body that governs its state division) to air their opinions on and debate the directions and actions of the party in government, away from public scrutiny or the glare of the press, and free — in theory at least — of the threat of reprisals, victimisation, or punitive action over dissenting views.

In short, they are the kind of forums that Liberal voters who are not members of the party ought to be thankful exist as a potential check on the government operated at a parliamentary level by the party’s elected MPs.

I obviously don’t live in Tasmania and here in Victoria, I have nothing to do at this stage with the party’s state executive. However, without disclosing any details, I can attest to the fact that the goings-on in Canberra have been the subject of robust and vociferous debate in other member forums within the party that I have been to in Melbourne of recent times, and to say that ordinary party members are in any way happy or satisfied with the Abbott government would be delusional, to say the least.

And I don’t know whether or not Senator Parry has taken a pot shot at Credlin within the Tasmanian state executive as the text message cited in Savva’s column suggests.

But if the SMS message from Credlin was indeed sent to Parry — and there is no reason to believe it wasn’t, so well-connected and scrupulous with her fact checking as Savva is — then it points to Credlin not merely continue to wield the inappropriate and counter-productive control over the government that has already proven so politically destructive, but has now moved to seek out key people within the membership forums of the party of itself to stifle the very dissent and debate those forums exist for in the first place.

And it goes without saying that a bureaucrat employed within the executive arm of government pursuing some kind of witch hunt over what takes place in the membership forums of a political party is an indefensible conflict of interest so at odds with the nature of his or her role as to render their tenure in such a position untenable.

Especially if that bureaucrat just happens to be the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

Saliently, Savva recounts today the clear message conveyed to Abbott prior to the vote by the seconder of the spill motion against him, WA MP Don Randall, that were he to fail to sack Credlin, the party’s MPs would have no choice but to remove Abbott from the leadership in order to ensure her dismissal themselves: a formulation I believe was and is not only valid, but still very much a necessary course where Credlin’s continuing tenure is concerned.

Make no mistake, there is an uprising within the ranks of the Liberal Party’s membership base across the country at present over the inept, hamfisted manner in which the party’s handling of government at state and federal levels has been conducted; in the face of vested interests fighting to keep their positions of prestige and influence — to say nothing of their snouts in the trough — great change seems set to be imposed upon the party this year, as its fed-up members seek redress over what can only be seen as squandered opportunities in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, perhaps New South Wales, and certainly at the federal level.

It is not the place of a lackey like Credlin to be interfering in the exercise by party members of their right to debate the course of the party, and who seek to correct it where their perception is that the ship has foundered on the rocks through the navigational errors of its captain and his mates.

And it is certainly not her place or her right to seek to stifle those conversations — apparently under threat of duress — to engineer them out of existence.

Painful as it is for some in the party to accept it, I have been consistently blunt about the fact that unless the cancerous growth at the epicentre of the Abbott government is removed, and removed quickly, then the Liberal Party federally is on a certain course for a return to opposition: not something any of us want, and certainly not something in the national interest.

One look at the alleged alternative is enough to prove that.

But the grubby little episode that Niki Savva writes of today shows that whilst the monster may have been repelled in the crossfire last month, it has by no means been destroyed.

In fact, it continues to hide in the abyss, flexing its muscles and recalibrating its attack plans, and maintaining an attack stance toward enemies real, imagined, perceived, or created by the invitation of its own actions.

The horror show of Peta Credlin’s “management” of the Abbott government rolls on, it seems, unabated and unhindered.

Like any monster story, this one will only end happily if the beast is slain — for the monster at the bottom of the abyss in this case will only be overcome by its utter destruction: as the hydra with a head lopped off grows two others in its place, it seems removing Credlin from her prominently visible posture has served only to embolden her, and to invite her activities to continue unretarded.

Attempts — insinuated, actual, implied or threatened — to interfere in the membership forums of the Liberal Party itself to stifle dissent and consolidate her position cannot and must not be tolerated, and if this incident is representative of how Credlin sees fit to discharge her duties then it is imperative she be removed forthwith.

Yet again, if Abbott will not fire her, then his own position will — soon enough — again be called into question.

For a government that pays so much attention to opinion polls, the first precondition for another spill attempt was satisfied on Monday.

Any more outbursts of the kind Savva covers off on today will only fuel the fire, and stiffen the resolve of Liberal MPs to get rid of Abbott so Credlin is removed once and for all.

And if that is what it takes to remove her, then so be it.