Tony Abbott has come under fire by Liberal Party elders. Picture: ABC
Tony Abbott has come under fire by Liberal Party elders. Picture: ABC

Joyce unleashes on Turnbull’s exit plan

BARNABY Joyce has hit out at former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to quit parliament and trigger a by-election in his prized Sydney seat of Wentworth.

Mr Turnbull told his supporters at an electorate conference on Monday night he would resign on Friday.

The former deputy prime minister said it would have been more honourable if Mr Turnbull saw out his term on the back bench.

"You leave on the right terms with the electorate and the right terms with your nation," Mr Joyce told Seven's Sunrise.

"To say 'oh well I'm not the prime minister anymore ho hum, you guys might lose government' - the government that he led - I think people are really disappointed with him about that."

Barnaby Joyce has slammed Malcolm Turnbull's exit from Parliament. Picture: Sunrise
Barnaby Joyce has slammed Malcolm Turnbull's exit from Parliament. Picture: Sunrise

Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull fell out spectacularly in February amid a storm of controversy surrounding the then Nationals leader's affair with a staffer.

Mr Turnbull has held the seat for 14 years and said last week he would not stay on the back bench if he wasn't leader, and has announced his last day will be Friday.

Jostling to fill the harbourside seat has begun, with Liberal backbencher Tony Abbott endorsing his sister for the plum seat just days after he helped orchestrate Mr Turnbull's demise.

MORRISON TO STICK WITH PARIS TARGETS

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly resisting calls to ditch the government's commitment to the Paris climate change targets because it could harm Australia's prospects of a free trade deal with Europe.

Mr Morrison is under internal pressure to abandon the emissions reduction targets after last week's controversial leadership turmoil.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a regional tour of the Tully property in Quilpie in south west Queensland yesterday. Picture: AAP Image/Alex Ellinghausen
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a regional tour of the Tully property in Quilpie in south west Queensland yesterday. Picture: AAP Image/Alex Ellinghausen

The Australian Financial Review reports the Coalition will maintain the Paris commitment, despite uncertainty over how it will reach the goal to cut emissions to 26 per cent, from 28 per cent on 2005 levels, by 2030.

Internal division over the Coalition's National Energy Guarantee was one of the catalysts for the successful challenge to Malcolm Turnbull's leadership, even after the former prime minister withdrew the Paris targets from the policy in a failed effort to placate rebel MPs.

NEG critic Mr Joyce said reducing people's power bills should be the government's priority.

"I don't care if its camel dung or coal... as long a power prices go down," the Nationals MP told ABC radio.

"I am completely and utterly agnostic about how you do it."

 

LIBERALS LASH OUT AT TONY ABBOTT

A myriad of factors led to Malcolm Turnbull's demise, but senior Liberal Party members have said Tony Abbott shoulders significant blame.

As Scott Morrison's new-look cabinet prepares to be sworn in this morning, Mr Abbott has been exposed by senior figures as one of the masterminds behind last week's leadership chaos that engulfed the party.

Liberal elders unleashed on Mr Abbott to ABC's Four Corners, saying the anger that came with losing the leadership in 2015 never disappeared.

Others demanded he quit politics, with the conservative former leader even dubbed a "wrecker".

Tony Abbott is believed to have played a roll in ousting Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister. Picture: AAP
Tony Abbott is believed to have played a roll in ousting Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister. Picture: AAP

Hostility between the two former prime ministers started in 2009, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett told Four Corners, when Mr Abbott rolled Mr Turnbull as Liberal Party leader by one vote.

At the time, it was understood the moderate Mr Turnbull had lost support of the party because he supported a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

"Everyone blames Tony and I understand that, but it goes back to when Tony defeated Malcolm Turnbull in Opposition by one vote and that laid the seeds to this continuing hostility between them both. So they're both responsible," Mr Kennett told Four Corners.

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said both Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull were to blame. Picture: ABC
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said both Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull were to blame. Picture: ABC

The bitter divide was only exacerbated in 2015 when Mr Turnbull made a triumphant return to the top job after Mr Abbott had been prime minister for two years, leaving him among the shortest-serving leaders.

Mr Turnbull defeated him in a leadership ballot, 54 votes to 44, after a string of poor poll while Mr Abbott was at the helm.

"What Tony has done is really regrettable, lamentable. Tony made something of a statesman-like speech when Malcolm defeated him for the leadership … He has not delivered on that," former Liberal Party treasurer Michael Yabsley told Four Corners.

Mr Abbott pledged not to snipe or undermine Mr Turnbull after he lost his grip on power in 2015, but Mr Yabsley said he was eager for revenge.

"On the contrary, he has destabilised. He has really done everything he could to make things as difficult as possible for Malcolm Turnbull," he said.

According to Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Mr Abbott remained frustrated after being topped as leader in 2015. Picture: ABC
According to Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Mr Abbott remained frustrated after being topped as leader in 2015. Picture: ABC

His view is shared by conservative NSW Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who signed the petition that ousted Mr Turnbull and saw former treasured Scott Morrison installed as party leader.

Ms Fierravanti-Wells claims his disposal in 2015 amounted to "unfinished business".

"Tony has been very active in maintaining a degree of agitation about his position. I think that has continued to accumulate," Ms Fierravanti-Wells said.

"For Tony, this is unfinished business and he's got his agenda."

She said Mr Abbott had "very effectively appealed to the conservative base of the Liberal Party", who were understood to be displeased under Mr Turnbull's leadership.

He also made the mistake of setting 30 Newspolls as a key performance indicator, which he'd used as an excuse to challenge Mr Abbott.

"But that's come back to haunt him because certainly Tony Abbott made sure that Newspolls were mentioned at different times as a benchmark towards achieving the same outcome that he'd achieved," Liberal MP Ken Wyatt said.

Liberal Party president Nick Greiner said Mr Abbott should have quit parliament. Picture: ABC
Liberal Party president Nick Greiner said Mr Abbott should have quit parliament. Picture: ABC

Liberal Party president Nick Greiner slammed Mr Abbott for his behaviour, and said he should have quit parliament after he lost the prime ministership, much like Mr Turnbull.

"He chose to not leave which of course I, and most people, think previous prime ministers ought to do. He chose not to do that. He's obviously behaved in the way that everyone in Australia can see," Mr Greiner said.

Former foreign minister Alexander Downer said Mr Turnbull’s demise was likely due to a case of revenge. Picture: ABC
Former foreign minister Alexander Downer said Mr Turnbull’s demise was likely due to a case of revenge. Picture: ABC

Former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer also weighed in on the debacle, saying there was a bitterness that followed being toppled as prime minister, which could lead to revenge.

"We saw through the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years the bitterness that follows from changing the Prime Minister in the party room. And in the case of the Liberal Party, the same sort of thing has happened," Mr Downer said.

"That in turn can lead to acts of attempted revenge."

Since Mr Morrison replaced Mr Turnbull as leader, support for the Coalition has plunged to its lowest level in a decade.

According to The Australian, the new Newspoll figure shows the Coalition's primary vote dropping four points to 33 per cent, while Labor's rose to 41 per cent.

Just 33 per cent of Newspoll respondents thought Mr Morrison was the right person for the top job, while Bill Shorten's personal approval jumped seven points to 39 per cent.

SHOCK JOCK'S ROLE IN LEADERSHIP SPILL

Controversial radio host Alan Jones has opened up about his role in last week's Liberal leadership spill, saying he contacted MPs to say the party had to change direction.

"I contacted certain MPs, yes, and encouraged them to recognise that if they wanted to go, Australia wanted to go the same way, there had to be change," he told the ABC TV's 7.30 program on Monday.

"I didn't turn against Turnbull, but I turned against the (energy) policy," he said.

Alan Jones admitted to contacting Liberal MPs to say the party had to change direction. Picture: AAP
Alan Jones admitted to contacting Liberal MPs to say the party had to change direction. Picture: AAP

Mr Jones says he supported Mr Turnbull at the last federal election, but the "writing was on the wall" for the Liberals.

"I tried to help Malcolm Turnbull at the last election because I thought it was a better option than the then Labor Party," he said.

"It is Australia that matters here.

"When people can't afford electricity, for goodness sake."

Mr Jones said he contact Liberal MP John Alexander, whose children he is godfather to, and urged a change over the "critical stuff".

In his outgoing speech, Mr Turnbull said he had been toppled by a "determined insurgency" backed by powerful voices in the media.

The former prime minister also made reference to the media the day before he was turfed from the top job.

"A minority in the party room, supported by others outside the parliament, have sought to bully, intimidate others into making this change of leadership that they're seeking," he said last week.