Skip To Content

    A Full History Of The Deeply Personal Feud That's Consuming Australian Politics

    Take a seat - we're going to be here a while.

    ICYMI, Australian politics is currently consumed by a deeply personal feud involving these three people who've known each other for YEARS!!

    Columnist and former political staffer Niki Savva has written a deeply damaging book about the downfall of former prime minister Tony Abbott, basically blaming the whole thing on Abbott's chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

    It's completely tearing up conservative politics and we're here to break it down for you, one step at a time. Pour a β˜•οΈ and let's go...

    We've got to head back to the former Liberal government in the late 90s. Then treasurer Peter Costello (left) had a press secretary working for him named Niki Savva (right).

    Mike Bowers

    Also working for the government at the time was this happy bloke named Vincent Woolcock. He's a legendary "advance man" or "fixer" (kind of like Remy Danton/Doug Stamper from House of Cards) and he just happens to be Savva's husband.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Now the prime minister's chief of staff is a BIG position and back then, Arthur Sinodinos (right) held the post for bloody yonks. He served John Howard for most of Howard's 11 years in office.

    Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

    Sinodinos is a BAMF.

    People really love the bald, steady handed guy. He became a legend in Canberra for how he ran Howard's office, known by many at the time as "the most covertly powerful person in Australia."

    Now let's fast forward to 2008. Peta Credlin, who has worked in a bunch of political positions, emerges to become the chief of staff to new opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

    Sam Mooy / AAPIMAGE

    Turnbull, who will one day become PM, really likes Credlin but he just happens to bloody suck at the job of party leader. Credlin gets demoted and Turnbull is sacked from the leadership of the Liberals by a pretty crazy right wing coup.

    The leader of that coup? Who else but Tony Abbott.

    So now Credlin joins Tony Abbott's new office and they become ~very~ close. She also happens to be married to this plucky fella, Brian Loughnane who eventually becomes the federal Liberal party director.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    This is VERY fucking convenient.

    Because when Abbott is finally prime minister, his chief of staff can share everything with the director of the party through marriage.

    There's been several Liberal party people who spoke out about the Tony-Peta-Brian 3way, claiming it was a "conflict of interest".

    In September 2013, Tony Abbott wins the election and becomes prime minister promising "good government" and FINALLY everyone in the Liberal party is happy for once tbh.

    Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

    But in his victory speech Abbott thanks Brian Loughnane and Peta Credlin ("who is the smartest and the fiercest political warrior I have ever worked with")... and yes, finally gets to thanking his family.

    Also that night *the* Tony O'Leary "door bitch" incident occurs. Tony O'Leary (yeah there's heaps of Tonys in this story but ~shrugs~ white Aussie guys hey) was the master adviser to Howard and also helped Abbott with communications.

    Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE

    According to widely accepted reports, O'Leary turned up at the victory celebration and was asked to leave by security. He had no idea what was going on, but apparently Credlin kicked him out of the party.

    A new verb, to be "Credlined" was coined and everyone LOST. THEIR. SHIT.

    Especially those from the Howard days - Savva, Woolcock, Sinodinos, O'Leary himself - who were pissed as all hell at Credlin and Abbott. O'Leary takes the hint and resigns.

    For the next 24 months Abbott tries to be prime minister but something just never clicks with the Australian people. Behind the scenes Credlin is being a badass BOSS.

    One incident is caught on camera (above) and becomes part of the Credlin-legend.

    She's seen lecturing frontbencher Stuart Robert, wagging her finger in an "f-bomb explosion" all over an argument about his request to auction off a tie worn by Tony Abbott. LOL... it was over a tie.

    Remember Arthur Sinodinos? Facing down corruption allegations in 2014, Credlin allegedly leaks to the media that he's leaving, before he has a chance to! Chalk that up as ANOTHER dagger to the heart of the old Howard Liberal bros.

    Daniel Munoz / AAPIMAGE

    Now in walks Savva... she's a columnist at the conservative-friendly broadsheet The Australian and starts throwing πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£

    Savva writes what everyone behind closed doors is thinking. "Very few decisions are made without the say-so of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Peta Credlin," she writes in one column.

    The columns which dropped every Thursday would regularly be about Credlin, Abbott and what Savva saw as their damaging relationship.

    It led to Credlin picking up the phone and texting the editor of The Australian Chris Mitchell and asking for Savva to be sacked. This insane move has been recreated here:

    Even the big dog went in on Credlin! Rupert Murdoch (who owns The Australian) tweeted at the start of last year that Credlin should do "her patriotic duty and resign".

    Abbott again. Tough to write, but if he won't replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign. More

    She totally didn't resign.

    Tracey Nearmy / AAP

    In fact things got worse.

    The press started having a bloody field day. In June last year, an AAP photographer took some photos of Credlin (above) who noticed and went batshit crazy. Credlin demanded the photos be deleted but the photographer was like, 'lol, nope'.

    Abbott would not sack Credlin, so the thing happened that Savva and her old Liberal mates predicted...

    In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull - Credlin's former boss and the man rolled by Abbott years before - had his revenge, staging a partyroom coup becoming prime minister.


    And who masterminded it from the inside? That's right, Arthur Sinodinos! He was "extremely involved" and was welcomed back by Turnbull and named the powerful "cabinet secretary".

    Dan Himbrechts / AAPIMAGE

    Credlin was GONE and so was her husband: Brian Loughnane resigned as federal party director. Turnbull tapped Tony Nutt (pictured) who just so happens to be a former Howard lieutenant and best mates with the old Liberal-Savva squad to take over the job.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Howard loves the shit out of Nutt.

    The former PM wrote in his biography, "(Nutt) knows where all the bodies are buried" in the Liberal party.

    In late September 2015, Credlin set πŸ”₯ to her critics at a women's media night. "If you're a cabinet minister or journalist and you're intimidated by the chief of staff to the prime minister, you don't deserve your job," she said.

    Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE

    Around the same time there was a controversial debate going on about whether the attacks against Credlin were sexist.

    "You will want to have women like me in politics. You will want to have women like me sitting in power," she said to the crowd at the media night.

    "If I was a guy, I wouldn't be bossy, I'd be strong."

    But that all brings us to last week. Savva published her book, "Road to Ruin" and everyone lost their shit. It included claims that colleagues thought Abbott and Credlin were having an affair and one minister witnessed Abbott slapping Credlin on the butt.

    There was even a story about a Liberal MP who had witnessed Credlin feeding Abbott pasta off her own fork. Abbott's mates immediately disputed this allegation, telling the Sunday Telegraph that Tony doesn't like Italian because, "Tony doesn't eat carbs".

    Craig Golding / Getty Images

    But a picture was found of Abbott eating at a Melbourne Italian restaurant in 2014. TONY DOES LIKE ITALIAN!

    & @vanOnselenP , @PaulBongiorno there's this 2014 pic found by an astute digger.

    Savva's book has lead to a whole week's worth of news stories... so Abbott this week released a statement that was peak Abbott - pointing to the boats, the taxes, the free tr- well you get the idea.

    The next day Credlin penned her own reply to Savva, with a savage takedown in The Australian, calling the book a "farce" and "unsourced gossip". She also was critical that Savva never even attempted to interview her for the book!

    Peta Credlin kicks the story along for another day by penning a column for The Australian.

    And then Thursday, again in The Australian, Savva returned πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

    Last night, Howard (who really is like the sharp end of this whole mess) told Sky News that the Liberal party needed to move on... not before taking a meaty swipe...

    Sky News

    Howard said that he warned Abbott personally to sack Credlin and Joe Hockey.

    "Look I did give him advice on two personnel issues and that was one of them, and also the Treasurer," he said.

    So that's where we're at. Credlin and Abbott had cleared out the Liberal party of the Howard-era operators. But through Turnbull's return and Savva's columns THEY'RE BACK BABEY.

    And if all that was too confusing for you, here's a chart. It puts the recent Kanye-Amber Rose beef to shame.

    I started mapping out the Niki Savva vs Abbott & Credlin conflict spider web and I ran out of room...