Turnbull at odds with base: PM
Conservative parts of the Liberal Party moved on Malcolm Turnbull partly because they thought he was failing to connect with its political base, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has conceded.
As Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull could be used as an “advocate” for Australia, Mr Morrison admitted tensions within the Liberal Party contributed to the former PM’s downfall.
It follows an appearance by Mr Turnbull on the ABC this week in which he accused the conservative wing of the party of trying to bully opponents into submission.
“What you’ve seen increasingly from the right, even if they’re not in the majority, they’ll say, ‘If you don’t give us what we want, we’ll blow the show up’,” he said.
“That is intimidating and that is bullying, and that was at the heart of the coup back in August. “That is a real threat to the Liberal Party.”
Mr Morrison, who defended the right of party members to challenge their leader, said those who moved on Mr Turnbull did so because of their concerns about the party’s connection to its base.
“Those who had advocated that had made points about needing to better connect with the values and the beliefs of Liberal and LNP members all around the country,” he said.
One of those singled out by Mr Turnbull for his demise, WA Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, said the former PM’s days were numbered when he called a leadership ballot. He said the issue had to be resolved quickly otherwise it would hurt the Government and the nation.
“It was clear given the result that day, that his position had become irretrievable and that it was in the interest of the country, the Government and the Liberal Party for the issue of the leadership of the Liberal Party to be resolved with more certainty before we left that week,” he told Sky News.
“Going into the break without the issue resolved would have created unbelievable instability, chaos and dysfunction, which was not in the country’s, the Government’s or the Liberal Party’s best interests.”
Campaigning in Perth, Mr Shorten said there could be merit in a Labor government using Mr Turnbull as an advocate overseas.
“I would just say to Mr Morrison not to be shy about using Mr Turnbull a bit,” Mr Shorten said.
“If we form a government, we would be open to the idea of utilising the services of our ex-prime ministers because I think sometimes we need to step above the partisanship.”
Bill Shorten and Labor’s candidate for Hasluck, James Martin.