The last thing Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg needed on budget night was another scathing and unsolicited assessment of the PM's character by a high profile member of the government's team.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' critique was, if anything, even harsher than recently reported comments by Barnaby Joyce, an unnamed cabinet minister, and Gladys Berejiklian. The senator, recently relegated to an unwinnable position on the NSW Liberal Senate ticket, used parliamentary privilege to accuse her long-term colleague of hypocrisy, bullying, ruthlessness, of being an autocrat and of making racial comments, something Mr Morrison flat out denied on Wednesday.
The remarks could not have come at a worse time with Mr Morrison trying to make political capital out of the alleged bullying of the late Senator Kitching by "mean girls" within the ALP. They have also taken urgently needed oxygen from the budget the government is depending on to put it back in the game.
Matters weren't helped when Senator Pauline Hanson weighed in saying she had also been bullied by Mr Morrison.
While, on the one hand, it is tempting to dismiss Senator Fierravanti-Wells's comments as the proverbial "sour grapes" and, on the other, there is no love lost between Senator Hanson and the PM - who she has previously accused of stealing her ideas - the claims should not be ignored.
Allegations Mr Morrison made remarks about the race of a rival candidate for preselection to the seat of Cook in 2007 are significant and go back to the beginning of his career in federal politics.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said she was aware of "several statutory declarations to attest to racial comments made by Morrison at the time that we can't have a Lebanese person in Cook". Given Mr Morrison has strenuously denied the claim, saying it was "rubbish" and "it's not true", the onus is on the senator to produce the documents.
Potentially just as damaging are Senator Fierravanti-Wells's allegations the Liberals are divided along factional lines: "For years figures in the Liberal Party have denied the existence of factions and criticised the ALP," she said. "This is hypocrisy given that the Liberal party is now no different to the Labor Party".
This is a reminder of the deep divisions within the Liberal Party that have led to the dumping of a succession of leaders including Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull (twice), and Tony Abbott since the 2007 election.
The facade of internal peace and unity the Liberals have been trying to present in recent years is a house of straw built on a bank of sand and threatened by a rising tide of internal discontent.
The most damning comment of all was the senator's claim NSW Liberals did not trust their leader: "Morrison is not fit to be Prime Minister," she said.
While few Australians would be naive enough to expect their leaders to be nothing but "sugar and spice and everything nice", recent surveys - including one by ACM - indicate voters place a high value on the personal integrity of those who hold high office.
Given it has just become that much harder for the PM to repeat the miracle of 2019 it is significant this latest attack has unfolded against ongoing speculation about who would become the leader of the opposition in the event of a Labor victory and even the possibility Mr Morrison could be dumped before election day.
All of this is a very unwelcome distraction at a time the LNP is desperate to achieve a budget bounce in the polls. And, like so much else that has gone wrong for it in recent times, it is a crisis entirely of the government's own making.
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