Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s close political colleague and former Parramatta MP Ross Cameron slammed the Prime Minister’s decision to oppose the leadership spill.
“There is only one candidate and that is Malcolm Turnbull,” he said.
“Let’s not kid ourselves: It is over.”
Making a 79-second statement this afternoon, Abbott said he and his Deputy leader Julie Bishop would “stand together” to oppose the motion to spill the party leadership.
“I want to make this very simple point — we are not the Labor Party and we are not going to repeat the chaos and the instability of the Labor years,” Abbott said.
“We [Abbott and Bishop] will stand together in urging the party room to defeat this particular motion.”
But the qualification in the Prime Minister’s brief statement was further laid bare an hour later by Bishop when she made it clear that she was supporting the PM “due to cabinet solidarity” and appears to have kept her options open in terms of standing for the leadership if the spill motion is successful.
Bishop became deputy leader of the Liberal party under Brendan Nelson in 2007 she has survived in the position under both Malcolm Turnbull and Abbott whilst supporting the incumbent during leadership spills whilst in opposition.
Her statement said: “Due to cabinet solidarity and my position as deputy there should be support for the current leadership in this spill motion.” This doesn’t rule out the prospect of running against Abbott or other nominees should the spill motion succeed.
Western Australian Liberal minister Luke Simpkins emailed his party room colleagues today, announcing his motion to spill motion against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The email said the motion would be seconded by WA minister Don Randall.
In the email, Simpkins said: “I think that we must bring this to a head, and test the support of the leadership in the party room.”
The motion was delivered to the Prime Minister’s office and that of the chief government whip, Phillip Ruddock, early Friday afternoon.
Abbott has indicated the motion will be listed for discussion at the Liberal party meeting on Tuesday.
Simpkins said the spill motion should be considered via a secret ballot as the first item of business in our party room meeting.
He said he’s been “inundated” with emails and calls questioning the government’s direction.
Political reporter Latika Bourke tweeted the email:
— Julia Baird (@bairdjulia) February 6, 2015
Here’s the motion from Ruddock:
— Lanai Scarr (Vasek) (@pollietracker) February 6, 2015
Here’s the full email from Luke Simpkins:
In the last two weeks I have been inundated with emails and walk ins to my Electorate Office all questioning the direction the government is being led in. The Knighthood issue was for many the final proof of a disconnection with the people.
These contacts have come from many people I personally know and are firm supporters – in some cases they are booth workers as well. The last time this outpouring of concern happened was when we’re being led to support the Rudd Government’s ETS and faced with this erosion of our base support we acted. I think that we must bring this to a head, and test the support the leadership in the party room.
I look forward to your support in this matter. It gives you all an opportunity to either endorse the Prime Minister or to seek a new direction.
As I have said in the past, I have no front bench ambition. I just want to make sure that the economic vandals do not get back into power and our children and grandchildren are not left to pay Labor’s bill. I do this because I believe it is in the best interest of the people of our country.
Simpkins said his motion for a spill was inspired by people, especially those in his electorate, who said they had stopped listening to the PM.
“If people are not listening then you cannot lead them,” Simpkins said.
If the spill motion doesn’t get up on Tuesday it has the potential to quantify the challenge against Abbott’s leadership.
Andrew Nikolic, the representative for the Tasmanian seat of Bass, said the situation is a repeat of Labor’s mistakes.
“Disappointing repetition of worst excesses of Labor Govt, which Australia rejected in 2013. We need stability & unity of purpose,” Nikolic said on Twitter.
Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison said he would not contend the leadership.
Finance minister Mathias Cormann said he would vote in support of Abbott and Bishop as PM and deputy.
“My judgement is Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop are the right team to lead us forward,” he said.
Defence minister Kevin Andrews said he would not support a spill motion.
“I will be voting against the spill motion because I think this will be a disaster for the party and a disaster for Australia,” he said.
“I believe the team of Tony Abbott and Julie Gillard is the best leadership of the Liberal Party,” he said.
Both assistant infrastructure minister Jamie Briggs and small business minister Bruce Billson said the spill motion should be defeated.
Abbott’s leadership has been in doubt over the past few days with reports of several backbenchers agitating for his removal.
Earlier this week, Bishop assured the PM she would not be challenging him.
Despite the drama, Abbott was visible yesterday, brushing off speculation and pushing for metadata legislation to be passed through Parliament as “quickly as possible”.