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Text attack on PM ‘malicious’: Barnaby Joyce

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Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has blasted the Liberal cabinet minister who leaked damaging text messages criticising Scott Morrison as “malicious”.

The messages between the so-far unidentified minister and former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian were revealed by Network Ten earlier this week.

They labelled Mr Morrison as “horrible, horrible person” who was “actively spreading lies”. The minister also described Mr Morrison as a “fraud” and a “complete psycho”.

On Friday, Mr Joyce said the messages should be ignored because of the leaker’s intention to deliberately damage the government.

“You are doing this for the purpose of malice, for the purpose of vindictiveness and for your own personal grudge and therefore, it is to be disregarded,” he told the ABC.

“It’s not so much what is said, it’s the motivation. The Australian people aren’t stupid. They’ll say, ‘Yeah, I could show you texts between brothers and sisters but we never expect you to show them to mum or dad’.”

Mr Joyce also labelled former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “an angry man” who finds reasons to attack the government.

On the ABC’s 7.30 on Thursday night, Mr Turnbull said he wasn’t surprised by the content of the messages, only that they made their way into the public domain. He said the Morrison government was is in “plenty of trouble”, coming in eight points behind Labor in the latest Newspoll and just months from a federal election.

On the same program, Defence Minister Peter Dutton said people say things that are exaggerated and heated in the moment, and the messages didn’t represent Mr Morrison’s character.

“[Putting] the petty discussions to one side, most Australians see they’ve got a prime minister who is human like the rest of us, doesn’t get everything right, but dedicates himself each day to get us through the realities of COVID,” he said.

Network Ten has said the messages were sent by a minister who is still part of Mr Morrison’s cabinet. Several current ministers – including Foreign Affairs and Women Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Sussan Ley – have denied being responsible.

“I have never had such an exchange with the former premier, nor have I ever used such language, and nor did I leak messages, if indeed they are genuine,” Senator Payne said on Wednesday.

Mr Morrison has also said he is “confident” the responsible minister is not still in his cabinet.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, who has criticised the Prime Minister in the past, has also vehemently denied any involvement.

-with AAP

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