by Mark Furler
UPDATE: MALCOLM Turnbull has accused News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt of bordering 'on the demented' after he claimed a dinner with Clive Palmer was evidence of his plan to overthrow Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.
In his column on Monday, Mr Bolt, a big supporter of Tony Abbott, said Mr Turnbull was trying to send a clear message to LNP MPs that if they wanted to get the support of Mr Palmer, they needed Mr Turnbull at the top.
"This sent an unmistakable message to Liberal MPs - replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and maybe Palmer will play ball,'' Mr Bolt wrote.
Mr Bolt accused Mr Turnbull of ading the Coalition's enemies by dining with Mr Palmer and by launching a launching a Parliamentary Friends of the ABC group.
"It borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as the Communications Minister, the launch by a cross-party group of friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister," Mr Turnbull told media on Monday.
"It is quite unhinged. Now, Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the government's enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC.
"I don't think you would see anything as crazy as that on the ABC.
"I just have to say to Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don't need any enemies."
Mr Bolt hit back at Mr Turnbull, challenging him to put as much energy into supporting Tony Abbott's budget as he did in attacking him.
"I now look forward to Turnbull disproving me not with this showy abuse but with a vigorous public defence of the most controversial Budget measures - the $7 Medicare co-payment and the changes to university funding.
"Question Time today would be good."
Mr Abbott told The Bolt Report on Sunday there was no threat to his leadership, Fairfax reported.
'Tony Abbott will be dumped by own party within week'
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott will be thrown out of the top job within a week, according to a former speech writer for Paul Keating and Kim Beazley.
Bob Ellis, a long-time writer and Labor supporter, wrote in his blog this week that Mr Abbott would be overthrown by next Thursday or Friday and replaced by Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt or Malcolm Turnbull.
He has also tipped that Joe Hockey could be dumped as Treasurer after the government's unpopular budget.
Mr Ellis based his prediction on the faces of LNP MPs during Question Time this week as Mr Abbott was hammered over the budget.
"Tony, was very strange indeed, his face calm but his voice arching upwards huskily into polecat soprano as he asserted repeatedly that 'not one dollar' had been cut from health and education,'' Mr Ellis wrote.
(The) backbenchers' faces behind him, and the Ministers' faces beside him, were melancholy-dire.
"He seemed mad, and it was clear they'd given up on him, the worst policy-salesman in their history (he had lost, in seven months as PM, 1.3 million votes), and were making frantic plans in hugger-mugger to be rid of him.''
"I predicted his arrival, and I was alone in doing so, correctly doing so; alone in the nation. I now predict his going. Thursday or Friday next week.''
WHO IS BOB ELLIS?
Ellis, who was born in Lismore, is an Australian writer, journalist, filmmaker and political commentator.
He was a student at the University of Sydney at the same time as other notable Australians including Clive James, Germaine Greer, Les Murray, John Bell, Ken Horler and Mungo McCallum.
He wrote two books, Goodbye Jerusalem and Goodbye Babylon, on his experiences of the Labor Party.
The first edition of Goodbye Jerusalem was pulped following a successful defamation case brought by two Liberal cabinet ministers, Tony Abbott and Peter Costello, and their wives.
The publisher, Random House, accepted that the disputed content was a falsehood and the book was removed from sale.
ACT Supreme Court Justice Higgins awarded the two politicians and their wives a total of $277,000 damages. A new edition of the book was published three months later which omitted the defamatory passage.