Malcolm Turnbull blames ministers for 'blowing up government'
Malcolm Turnbull has taken a swipe at senior ministers he blames for the August leadership coup - insisting they “blew the government up” and haven’t explained why.
On ABC TV’s Q&A programme, his first major television appearance since being ousted, he pointed out not only Peter Dutton, but Energy Minister Angus Taylor, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Defence Industry Minister Steve Ciobo.
And the name Tony Abbott bobbed up on more than one occasion.
"Scott Morrison can’t explain it, he’s the new Prime Minister. I’m the outgoing Prime Minister I can’t explain it and the people who caused it choose not to do so."
The former Prime Minister insisted he’d been warned but it had never occurred to him those cabinet ministers "would act in a way that would be so damaging."
He admitted it was still "quite painful to talk about", and warned the ongoing questions over why he was ousted could dig at the Coalition right through until polling day.
"My judgement is that Dave Sharma would have won the election - with a reduced majority, obviously, quite substantially reduced - had it been held on the Saturday before," he declared.
"The by-election was lost in the last week."
Mr Turnbull also defended his lack of public support for Mr Sharma in the final days of the campaign.
He said under the circumstances he saw it as "unhelpful" to intervene.
And after he had appeared to have differences with Scott Morrison last week over comments the former prime minister made in Bali over the embassy issue, tonight he was wishing Mr Morrison “all the best in the election”.
Asked if he thought Mr Morrison's backers had been inflating Peter Dutton’s numbers in the first ballot in the final week of August, Mr Turnbull brushed it aside.
"I take Scott at his word. The insurgency was led by Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott and others."
But added, "He has dealt himself a very tough hand of cards now he has to play them".
Mr Turnbull said, “I’m not miserable, or bitter, or resentful at all,” describing it as a privilege to be prime minister.
He said the Liberal party faced a major challenge to win back votes “from the centre”, pointing to formerly safe Liberal seats of Mayo and Wentworth falling to independents.
Mr Turnbull also used the appearance to attack what he saw as a “consistent campaign” waged against him by some quarters of the media, confirming he’d spoken with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Much of his strongest language was reserved for Peter Dutton.
He said his idea of removing GST from power bills was “justification for taking it to Cabinet, not overthrowing a government”.
The coup resulted in not just a change of leader but also alluded to broader issues in parliament after one MP, Julia Banks, announced after the challenge, her intention to quit over bullying and intimidation.
Of that Mr Turnbull said, "The culture in parliament is not sufficiently respectful of women... it's like stepping into an office in the 80s. It's very, very blokey."
The conversation on the ABC’s Q&A program largely centred around the coup, as Mr Turnbull tried to push what he saw as his legacy.
He hailed marriage equality, jobs growth, a stronger economy, and salvaging the Trans Pacific Partnership as his great successes.
As for what’s next for Mr Turnbull?
He says he is "out of politics".
"I will return to the business world. I love nothing more than technology."