Tony Abbott has been shirtfronted by his own side, with Nationals backbencher and former AFL player Damien Drum taking the former prime minister on.
- Mr Turnbull will today address the Coalition party room to try again to win over Mr Abbott’s so-called “coalsheviks”
- Internal divisions over energy have become a proxy for leadership tensions in the Government
- Supporters of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he commands at least 30 votes for the Liberal leadership, within striking distance of the required 43
Mr Drum told AM Mr Abbott needed to quit.
“He vowed he wouldn’t be a wrecker and that’s exactly what he’s been, a wrecker,” he said.
“He needs to get out of the joint.”
But far from leaving, Mr Abbott took another swing at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“Where are this Prime Minister’s convictions?” he asked when approached by AM, describing Mr Turnbull’s announcement yesterday to drop an emissions reduction target from the government’s energy policy as a “conversion of convenience”.
Mr Turnbull will today address the Coalition party room to try again to win over Mr Abbott’s so-called “coalsheviks” and back his energy policy.
But Mr Abbott said he was concerned at suggestions the Prime Minister could revisit the pledge to drop the emissions target.
“Does that mean he’s going to do a deal with the Labor Party? Does that mean he’s going to twist arms in our party room?”
Internal divisions over energy have become a proxy for leadership tensions in the Government.
Supporters of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he commanded at least 30 votes for the Liberal leadership, including several frontbenchers.
Though a spill is unlikely this week, if those numbers stick, he is within striking distance of the 43 he needs to claim the leadership.
Mr Dutton has pledged support for Mr Turnbull, though his supporters contended that could change in Parliament’s September sitting.
“If the polls tank over the break it’ll be game on next sitting fortnight,” one MP said.
A campaign is already underway to soften Mr Dutton’s hardman image after years at the helm of the Government’s border protection policy.
Several supporters assured the ABC Mr Dutton was easy-going, personable and someone the public would warm to if given a broader remit.
Concern about the Government’s fortunes are deepest in Mr Dutton’s home state of Queensland, where the government holds seven marginal seats.
One marginal seat-holder said “we couldn’t sell ice to thirsty eskimos” under Mr Turnbull’s leadership.
AM asked another — Nationals Whip Michelle Landry — whether she would have a better chance of holding her seat with Mr Dutton as leader.
“I certainly do in Queensland but you know it’s more than Queensland, it’s the whole country, so you’d have to ask the other people in the other states about that.”
She has also called on Mr Turnbull to pledge money at today’s meeting to build a coal-fired power plant in Queensland.
Liberal junior minister Alex Hawke said he thought another version of the Government’s energy policy would emerge from today’s meeting.
“Obviously I think there will be some more change,” he said.
“There has been some change, there has been some listening and that’s been good.”