Turnbull: ‘Peta was running the country for Abbott’


Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has opened up about another former leader, Tony Abbot's "bizarre" relationship with his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin.

Speaking about his tell-all book, A Bigger Picture, on ABC's 7.30 program, Mr Turnbull spoke about the power he believed Ms Credlin, now a Sky News host, had over her boss.

"You were really dealing with Peta and Peta was running the country and that was obvious, and dominating Abbott," he said.

"So it was as though she felt, 'I've created you, you're my creation', and she felt she owned him. It was a bizarre - a truly bizarre - relationship."

In the book Mr Turnbull writes extensively about how Mr Abbott's office functioned with Credlin at the helm.

"I've never known a leader more dominated by another than Abbott by Credlin," he writes.

"The relationship was completely asymmetric, he worshipped and feared her and she on the other hand treated him with disdain."



Peta Credlin dominated Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull has said. Picture: Jane Dempster/The Australian.
Peta Credlin dominated Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull has said. Picture: Jane Dempster/The Australian.



Mr Turnbull told 7.30 that despite Mr Abbott's beliefs Mr Turnbull was plotting against him, it was the Abbott government that brought itself down.

"Credlin and Abbott destroyed their own government due to their own follies and then set out to destroy mine," he said.

"Both of them demonstrated a forte for negativity and destruction, as opposed to trying to do something positive."

In the book Mr Turnbull claims Mr Abbott was a dangerous prime minister and a threat to the nation and its security.

In 2015 Mr Turnbull defeated Mr Abbott in a spill for the Liberal party leadership. It came after an earlier leadership battle between the two men in 2009.

Mr Turnbull also opened up about his battle with depression after losing the party leadership to Mr Abbott in 2009.

"I started to sink into a very, very deep depression," he said on 7.30.

"It was very deep and very dangerous.

"I felt these thoughts of death, of self-destruction, coming into my mind unbidden and unwanted. And I couldn't get them out of my mind and I got sicker and sicker and sicker. It was a terrible time."

Mr Turnbull said he managed the depression by announcing he would retire from politics which was a "mistake".

"I then changed my mind, and ran again and I ran again in large part to survive, because I felt this was something I could do to claw my way out of this terrible hole, this black hole I'd found myself in," he said.

In the book Mr Turnbull writes how he felt like "dying all the time".

On 7.30 Mr Turnbull also spoke about how he thought Peter Dutton was "deluded" in thinking he could be a good Liberal party leader during the spill of August 2018.

"It was such an absurd proposition," he said.

"I didn't imagine that he was so deluded as to imagine that our political prospects would be advanced by a change of leadership, and especially to him."



Originally published as Turnbull: 'Peta was running the country'