Expert says Brough PM challenge 'unlikely'

Mal Brough
Mal Brough Youtube

POLITICAL expert Bronwyn Stevens believes a plot involving Coast MP Mal Brough challenging Tony Abbott's leadership is unlikely but said today's National Press Club address is vital for the prime minister's job security.

She said Mr Abbott must use today's speech in Canberra to win over support of his party and put an end to plans for a leadership challenge.

"Abbott is going to have to give the speech of his life (today) to get the backbenchers back on his side," Ms Stevens said.

"He's very unpopular at the moment and I think a lot of it will depend on how this speech goes, but I think it's unlikely they will make a change."

Mr Brough went to ground yesterday, not taking calls from the media after a report emerged on Saturday saying he had been approached to challenge Mr Abbott for the leadership.

Several members of the government - including Mr Brough - confirmed there had been talk about the leadership change amid Mr Abbott's sagging popularity.

Ms Stevens said the result of the Victorian state election in December might convince the Liberal Party to give Mr Abbott a chance to turn things around.

The Victorian Liberal Party changed leaders midway through 2013 when Ted Baillieu resigned, but his replacement, Denis Napthine, was unable to lead the party to a second term.

"Tossing leaders out doesn't necessarily win voter's support," she said. "They would have to be clear they couldn't win with Abbott."

She believes Mr Brough's political style is too similar to the prime minister's to make him a viable replacement if the party room does turn against Mr Abbott.

"I think it's very unlikely Mal Brough would win," she said. "He's not a minister, he's also a somewhat abrasive action-type man and these are the things people don't like about Abbott - that he's got a fairly aggressive stance and he leaps into things and he's not consulting colleagues, which is really bad. I'm not really sure Mal Brough would save them."

Reports suggested Mr Brough might act as a "stalking horse" mounting a challenge so a serious contender such as Malcolm Turnbull or Julia Bishop could make a leadership bid.

Topics:  editors picks mal brough politics prime minister tony abbott

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