Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has taken to Twitter with a series of tweets, encouraging senior Liberal Party MPs to defy Scott Morrison and vote against a plan to prevent conservative MP Craig Kelly from losing preselection in the upcoming New South Wales election.
While Turnbull is no longer in the top job, he is still weighing in to Liberal Party matters and calling on senior figures to go against Morrison and his plans to give current MPs preselection for their seats.
Kelly reportedly threatened that he would move to the cross bench if he lost support in his seat of Hughes in New South Wales, leading to the former PM calling the move “undemocratic”.
Today I learned there was a move to persuade the State Executive to re-endorse Craig Kelly as Liberal candidate for Hughes in order to avoid a preselection – in other words to deny Liberal Party members in Hughes the opportunity to have their say.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 2, 2018
“Today I learned there was a move to persuade the State Executive to re-endorse Craig Kelly as Liberal candidate for Hughes in order to avoid a preselection – in other words to deny Liberal Party members in Hughes the opportunity to have their say,” Turnbull tweeted on Sunday evening. “I subsequently spoke with several State Executive members to express my strong view that the Party’s democratic processes should operate in the normal way especially after such a long debate in the NSW Liberal Party about the importance of grass roots membership involvement.”
He explained that his media adviser had been contacted by several media publications about these discussions and that he wanted to state his views before news broke on Monday.
“I can state that I am strongly of the view that the normal democratic process should proceed,” he continued. “It has been put to me that Mr Kelly has threatened to go to the cross bench and ‘bring down the Government’. If indeed he has made that threat, it is not one that should result in a capitulation. Indeed it would be the worst and weakest response to such a threat.”
Turnbull ended his Twitter tirade by explaining it was time for Liberal Party members to have their say about their local member and to decide who they want to represent them.
Turnbull appeared on ABC radio on Monday to further clarify his comments.
“If, assuming he has made that threat, then that is the worst and weakest reason not to have a preselection process,” he said. “So all I have asked, and I was asking members of the state executive, to whom I’m entitled to speak as a member, I’ve asked them to stick to the democratic process.”
Turnbull also explained that the current prime minister had originally agreed to a March 2 election in New South Wales to give the state the best chance at avoiding an election wipe out, but that date has been pushed out.”
The former PM’s comments comes after Labor’s spectacular win in Victoria’s election last month, leading many political commentators to claim Morrison could be in for a defeat at the next federal election. Daniel Andrews claimed an overwhelming victory over Liberal’s Matthew Guy in the much-anticipated election.