Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies that he is laying the groundwork for a leadership challenge
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies that he is laying the groundwork for a leadership challenge Cade Mooney

Turnbull denies he is 'doing the numbers' for spill

MALCOLM Turnbull is not attempting to cement support from colleagues for a leadership tilt, according to his office.

Mr Turnbull's spokesperson has denied the communications minister is ringing colleagues to secure votes for a possible spill against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The ABC reports his office will confirm that "Turnbull had taken calls and made calls to concerned colleagues".

Speculation went into overdrive earlier today after a senior ABC presenter said two unnamed sources had claimed Mr Turnbull had contacted them to back him if he went up against Mr Abbott.

Supporters of Mr Turnbull are claiming these unsubstantiated claims might be an attempt to "flush out" the former leader into ruling out a challenge.



REPORTS: Turnbull 'doing the numbers' to challenge PM

MALCOLM Turnbull is reportedly doing the numbers as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Cabinet attempt to talk down the looming threat of a leadership coup.

Among those defending Mr Abbott in his current role were Treasurer Joe Hockey and Environment Minister Greg Hunt .

Mr Hunt said on radio that no other potential leaders had spoken to him about who may succeed Mr Abbott, should a spill go ahead during the first full meeting of the Liberal party next Tuesday.

He said he had a "100%, rock-solid, deep, personal support" for Mr Abbott and that in his view that was "absolutely the position of each and every member of the Cabinet".

But he also implored the wider party not to go forward with a leadership spill, after Queensland MPs Warren Entsch and Mal Brough expressed a lack of confidence in Mr Abbott's leadership on Tuesday.

"Look, my view here is that there shouldn't be any action - I'm not convinced there will be any action," he said.

And despite serious concerns in Queensland after the huge LNP loss at the state election last week, veteran Queensland Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald also said in a statement that "a spill is not the Liberal way".

He wrote the party had to carefully consider the potential reaction from the public should a spill go ahead, invoking Labor's loss at the 2013 election after two successive challenges.


But it may be too late to save the PM's job.

ABC presenter and senior journalist Julia Baird has posted on Twitter that "two federal Liberal MPs have just confirmed to me that Malcolm Turnbull has called to ask if they will vote for him as leader".

Ms Baird does not name her sources and her claims are yet to be verified.

Mr Turnbull was ousted as Liberal leader while the Coalition was in Opposition, losing a leadership ballot to Mr Abbott by a single vote.

He and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are widely considered to be the most likely successors if Mr Abbott was to be rolled at a Cabinet meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

Ms Bishop has vowed not to challenge Mr Abbott, but if a leadership spill was called, all positions would be considered vacant.

That is, she would not be challenging for the top job, but merely applying for a vacant spot.

On Tuesday, she said she was...

"...Not campaigning for the job of prime minister, I am not ringing the backbench asking for support.

I am not counting any numbers, I will not challenge the leader."


Who do you think should be leading our country?

This poll ended on 07 February 2015.

Current Results

Tony Abbott


Malcolm Turnbull


Mal Brough


Julie Bishop


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Abbott in crisis: PM to "be in touch" as MPs revolt

Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Prime Minister Tony Abbott


PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has said he wants to "be in touch" with Liberal backbenchers, as the party prepares for what could be a volatile party room meeting next week.

Mr Abbott hit the 2GB Radio airwaves on Wednesday, imploring his colleagues that "with the wisdom of hindsight" he had made decisions that "should not have been made".

While he said he was still "the same man now as I guess I always have been", he had "reversed" the bad decisions made "as far as is humanly possible".

"There is nothing to stop members of parliament ringing me up, knocking on my door," he said.

"I want to be in touch with my colleagues, I want to be in touch with my electorate."

Mr Abbott said that "wherever I am", citing his recent visit to a pub in Colac, he thought "I've been pretty exposed to the Australian people".


Brough targets Abbott's leadership but won't challenge

Mal Brough.
Mal Brough. File


THE Member for Fisher, Mal Brough,  has categorically ruled himself out of making a tilt for the prime ministership.

Speaking to media at Brightwater Hotel last night after addressing local GPs about the Medicare co-payment issue, Mr Brough said he had no intention of challenging Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

While firm in hosing down speculation he was considering a run at the position, Mr Brough refused to offer his unwavering support for the embattled PM.

"Do I unequivocally support the Prime Minister? No, I don't," Mr Brough said.

"It's a critical support."

Mr Brough was critical of the ongoing issues surrounding Medicare co-payments, as well as the cuts to Defence Force incomes - an issue he was particularly passionate about.

"For a $20 million saving to the defence budget in 2014-15, that's approximately what it was ... I think we sent a really negative message to our men and women of the defence force," Mr Brough said.

"Our defence force is one of the best in the world because of its people and the very least we can do is to ensure that their wages are not diminished."

Mr Brough alluded to  other problems he had struck with the Prime Minister, but refused to elaborate other than to say there had been animated talks between them.

"We've had robust discussions and I'm expecting to have further robust discussions," he said.

Earlier at Brightwater, Mr Brough engaged in a public forum with local GPs to canvas their opinions on the proposed Medicare co-payments and the freeze on rebates.

Mr Brough said he hoped the public manner of the discussion would bring about a change in the way the government engaged with the population.

When quizzed about a potential leadership spill as early as next Tuesday, Mr Brough refused to speculate and said he would engage in that discussion if and when it occurred.

He also refused to throw his support behind other party members linked with possible new leadership.

While Mr Brough spoke openly last night about his criticisms of a number of Mr Abbott's policies, he stopped short of challenging the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Two other Coalition backbenchers including West Australian MP Denis Jensen have told Mr Abbott and now the media that the PM did not have his support.

Queensland MP Warren Entsch is pushing to have the party's leadership put on the table at the next party room meeting on Tuesday.

Senator Ian MacDonald said on Tuesday it was a "matter of fact" that voters supported voted for their local MPs, not the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Queensland MP Andrew Laming is still spruiking a private members' bill to abolish the titles of Knights and Dames. The Coalition MP's attack comes just weeks after Mr Abbott knighted Prince Philip.

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