Finance Minister Mathias Cormann today said he had offered Malcolm Turnbull his resignation, saying he no longer believes he has the support of MPs in a fatal blow to the prime minister’s leadership.
Cormann, along with cabinet colleagues Michelia Cash and Mitch Fifeild, met with Turnbull last night to express their shared opinion.
After another meeting with him this morning, they told him their position had not changed overnight, and all three offered their resignations.
Cormann was considered a key player in this Liberal Party’s leadership saga, having a strong influence over a number of ministers standing by the PM.
Yesterday he stood with Turnbull in the Prime Minister’s courtyard, alongside Treasurer Scott Morrison, another key figure to when Turnbull capitulated from the company tax cuts.
“It’s with great sadness and a heavy heart that we went to see the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon to advise him that in our judgment he no longer enjoyed the support of the majority of members in the Liberal Party party room and that it was in the best interests of the Liberal Party to help manage an orderly transition to a new leader,” Cormann said.
“We have had a further meeting with the Prime Minister this morning, all three of us, to confirm that we believe that there should be a party room meeting to resolve the issue of the leadership of the Liberal Party, to provide certainty around the support for the leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party and all of us tendered our resignation to the Prime Minister.”
Cormann, who was visibly downtrodden, said he was surprised when Turnbull called a spill on Tuesday, and added he has been a loyal supporter of Turnbull, and “did not want to be here in this position”.
“I did not want to be here in this position. I did not know that there was going to be a motion from the prime minister to declare the leadership positions vacant on Tuesday,” he said.
“I, like others, was taken by surprise and I guess the reason we are here now is because that crystallised the views of the party room at that point, and in the context of a number of colleagues, including five Cabinet ministers who supported Malcolm on Tuesday, indicating to me that they were of the view that there needed to be a change in the leadership of the Liberal Party.”
Cormann threw his support behind Dutton, saying he believes he is the best person to lead the Liberal party but acknowledged Turnbull’s contribution as prime minister.
“I believe that Malcolm Turnbull has been and is a great prime minister,” he said.
“I believe that he will go down in history as having secured amazing achievements for Australia. There’s no question that Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for the economy, for jobs in relation to our national security – that we all have been part of implementing – has left the country stronger and in a better position.”
All three ministers expressed their desire to have the situation wrapped up as soon as possible.
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