PM shuts down reports he's 'done with' Turnbull
Scott Morrison has defended using Malcolm Turnbull on the international stage and denied reports he's "done" with his predecessor over his lack of involvement in the Wentworth by-election.
The prime minister also brushed aside criticism from the likes of Barnaby Joyce, who described the move as "wild" and "remarkable".
On Mr Turnbull's 64th birthday, as the Beatles’ old lyrics went, Australia still needs him, and will feed him a continuing prominent role.
The former PM will represent Australia at an oceans conference in Bali next week, with Mr Morrison saying he could be used at other events "in the national interest".
Mr Morrison also said it was "wrong" to say their relationship had cooled in the wake of the Wentworth loss.
"I understand some people out there might be disappointed by that or be angry by that," the prime minister said on Wednesday.
"Others might think it's a terribly good idea. It's no different to other prime ministers representing Australia at other events.
"Former prime ministers have a role to play to serve our country and where they're able to do that, I know they're willing to do it.
"I believe he'll make a positive contribution. For me, national interest comes first."
Mr Morrison noted other former PMs - Tony Abbott, John Howard, and Julia Gillard - had represented Australia.
"We've got to get above the ruck of personality politics and focus on what the national interest is. That's what I'll do as prime minister,” he said.
"I'll get above that ruck. I'm not going to get down there in the gutter of this personality politics. I don't think that's in the national interest."
The prime minister said the decision had been made "weeks and weeks ago" in talks with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who'd shared a special bond with Mr Turnbull.
"To have a former prime minister attend is a significant recognition of the status of the event and the status of our relationship,” Mr Morrison said.
But Mr Joyce questioned the "rewarding" of Mr Turnbull after his resignation led to the by-election and the government's slide into minority government.
Liberals, though, point out Mr Turnbull tweeted his support for candidate Dave Sharma early in the campaign.
“Congratulations from Lucy and me to @DaveSharma - new Liberal candidate for Wentworth. As a diplomat Dave has represented Australia magnificently overseas, and now if elected will make a great contribution in our national parliament,” Mr Turnbull tweeted on September 13.