Turnbull ousted for failing to connect: PM
Scott Morrison says Malcolm Turnbull was rolled as prime minister because Liberal MPs believed their former leader did not connect with grassroots members.
In his first explanation of why Mr Turnbull was knifed by his party, the Prime Minister said there were concerns in government ranks that Mr Turnbull was out of touch with Coalition supporters.
Mr Morrison’s assessment came after Mr Turnbull urged the coup plotters, whom he described as “insurgents”, to explain why a leadership change was needed.
“Those who had advocated that (change in leadership) made points about the need to better connect with the values and beliefs of Liberal, Nationals and LNP members across the country,” Mr Morrison said yesterday.
He echoed John Howard in arguing that the leadership of the Liberal Party was a gift of the partyroom. “We live in a parliamentary democracy, we don’t live in a presidential system,” he said.
“The parliamentary Liberal Party decides who their leader is and the parliamentary Liberal Party formed a decision that we wanted to make a change.”
In a special episode of ABC’s Q&A on Thursday, Mr Turnbull slammed senior MPs who moved against him, naming Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott, Greg Hunt, Mathias Cormann, Steven Ciobo and Michael Keenan as among those who should explain why a new leader was needed.
Some Liberal MPs were yesterday furious at Mr Turnbull’s claim the partyroom had seen internal polling of the 40 most marginal seats that showed the government ahead of Labor — 52-48 per cent — on a two-party-preferred basis.
The MPs said by Mr Turnbull’s numbers, the government was on track to win 10 seats at the next election from Labor despite being behind in Newspoll for more than two years.
“It is utter bullshit,” one conservative MP said.
Senator Cormann and Victorian Liberal senator Jane Hume said they never saw internal polling Mr Turnbull had referenced.
“I haven’t seen any such polling,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.
“There’s no question in my mind the government had worked very well as a team and we were getting into a more competitive position than we had been. But that was before the 10 days of that (leadership spill) period.”
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, a strong ally of Mr Turnbull, backed the former prime minister in arguing the insurgents “have to be responsible for their actions”.
“They made a decision about not supporting Malcolm and they have to be responsible for that,” he told the Nine Network.