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Prime Minister Hits Out At Sexist Attacks Against His Chief Of Staff

"Do you really think my Chief of Staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?"

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has attacked his own government colleagues for speaking out against Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, labeling the criticism sexist and based on the fact she is a woman.

Alan Porritt / AAP

Government members have been complaining to journalists in recent weeks about the way Ms Credlin runs the Prime Minister's office, claiming that she has too much control.

It has led to damaging stories about internal rifts and about how Ms Credlin needs to take some responsibility for the government's falling popularity.

Mr Abbott took a stand on Friday morning and posed the question to ABC News: "Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?"

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"I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms... what my office does is what I ask my office to do," he said.

Lukas Coch / AAP

The claims of sexism comes just months after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attacked the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for using the "gender card" to defend herself and for turning herself into a "victim".

Lukas Coch / AAP

ABC News 24 host Virginia Trioli brought up the hypocrisy after the interview.

Has PM @TonyAbbottMHR played the gender card? "Would my COS be under this criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?

Virginia Trioli@LaTrioliFollow

Has PM @TonyAbbottMHR played the gender card? "Would my COS be under this criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?

8:11 AM - 12 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

And it left others... well... stunned.

I am stunned the PM used the gender card. Incidently, if he thinks his colleagues are sexist could so few women getting promoted be a cause?

Peter van Onselen@vanOnselenPFollow

I am stunned the PM used the gender card. Incidently, if he thinks his colleagues are sexist could so few women getting promoted be a cause?

9:54 AM - 12 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

UPDATE 1500 AEST: Government Minister Jamie Briggs issued a call to his colleagues to show some "balls".

Alan Porritt / AAP