Outspoken Victorian Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith says he will not back down from his colourful attacks on Premier Daniel Andrews, but denies he wants the Opposition leadership.
- The Kew MP labelled Mr Andrews “Dictator Dan” in a tweet
- Mr Smith said he was using colourful language to raise an important point about the extent of Victoria’s restrictions
- He said his actions were not undermining Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien “in the slightest”
Despite the global pandemic, there are tensions in the Victorian Liberals.
The Kew MP has continued to attack the Government’s leader with sledges including “schmuck, loser, dictator”, raising eyebrows.
On Sunday, State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien counselled Mr Smith after he called Premier Daniel Andrews a “loony” during an interview on breakfast TV.
His often-late night tweets are grabbing attention and sucking oxygen from Mr O’Brien, who has spent the last two days pitching economic policies to tackle the state’s jobs crisis.
On Wednesday night, Mr Smith called Mr Andrews a “friendless loser”, comparing him to the Addams Family character Lurch and a control freak wowser.
“At the end of the day in a cluttered media market sometimes you need to use language in order to make your point, and the point is at that moment there are rules existing in Victoria that exist nowhere else in Australia that are locking staff out of their jobs,” he told the ABC.
Mr Smith has been particularly focused on pubs and cafes remaining shut despite other states permitting a small number of patrons.
Asked if he was undermining Mr O’Brien, Mr Smith said “not in the slightest”.
And asked if he wanted the leadership, Mr Smith said “no”.
Mr O’Brien dismissed the focus on Mr Smith.
“Politicians will attack each other, it’s an unfortunate part of the business, but frankly it’s a sideshow,” he said.
Mr Smith said he accepted criticism of the way he made his point but said he would not be backing down.
The MP’s behaviour has divided opinion in Liberal ranks, with some highlighting the double standards of the Labor Party, who have also engaged in personal attacks.
In 2016, Mr Andrews was forced to apologise after making jibes about an Opposition MP’s weight.
When questioned on Thursday about Mr Smith’s most recent tweet labelling the Premier a “friendless loser”, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan declined to comment.
“I’m just not going to comment on the leadership tensions within the Victorian Liberal Party,” she said.