Malcolm Turnbull’s Q&A appearance has reignited tensions inside the Liberal Party, with frontbencher Christopher Pyne declaring Cabinet colleagues “have to be responsible” for their actions in removing the former prime minister.
- Christopher Pyne said the Coalition members who plotted against Malcolm Turnbull must explain themselves
- Mathias Cormann defended his role in the challenge, saying tensions within the party had boiled over
- Mr Turnbull described the move against him as “madness”
On the ABC program last night, Mr Turnbull called on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Health Minister Greg Hunt and former prime minister Tony Abbott to explain why they challenged his leadership in August.
Appearing on Channel Nine this morning, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne revealed he spoke to his former leader and “friend” after the Q&A special.
“I did speak to Malcolm afterwards and I think he did a great job,” he said.
“He’s a friend of mine. I asked him how it went. We texted each other and he’s entitled to have his views about things.”
Mr Pyne said he agreed with Mr Turnbull that those who plotted his downfall must explain themselves.
“They have to be responsible for their actions. They made a decision about not supporting Malcolm and they have to be responsible for that,” Mr Pyne said.
Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Anne Ruston, told RN Breakfast she does not know why her colleagues decided to dump their leader.
“I think it’s for those who made that decision to destabilise, that they perhaps are the ones that you should be directing that question to. I’m focused on moving forward,” she said.
The Federal Opposition has consistently pressured the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other members of the Government to explain why Mr Turnbull was rolled.
And following the former prime minister’s appearance on television last night, MPs and ministers are likely to be taunted with questions for days to come.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, a former Turnbull supporter and the Government’s Senate leader, defended his role in the challenge, telling Sky the tensions within the party had boiled over.
“There’s no question, in my mind, that the Government had worked very well as a team and got ourselves back into a more competitive position than we had been,” he said.
“But that was before the 10 days of that period. We clearly had some policy issues in relation, in particular, to the National Energy Guarantee.
“My intention was that that would happen, as we had worked through difficult policy issues in the past. But in the end that is not the way things played out.
“And sadly, on the Tuesday, when the surprise leadership ballot was called the way it was, it crystallised a level of division in the Liberal party partyroom that needed to be resolved, and ultimately it was.”
But Mr Turnbull described the move as “destructive” and “madness”, and claimed internal polling showed the Coalition could win the next federal election.
Despite being a key member of the leadership team, Mr Cormann said he had not been privy to that information.
“I’ve got to say, I have not seen that polling before or after [the spill],” he said.