Turnbull at odds with base: PM

The West Australian - - NEWS - Shane Wright and Nick But­terly

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.”

Pic­ture: Si­mon Santi

Bill Shorten and La­bor’s can­di­date for Hasluck, James Mar­tin.

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