Malcolm Turnbull has slammed “wreckers” in parliament he believes have plotted to bring down his prime ministership, insisting Aussie voters will have been left “dumbstruck and appalled” by the leadership spill scandal over the last few weeks.
Addressing the media in an emotional final press conference as prime minister, Turnbull took aim at people in the party room, the media and Peter Dutton following his failed attempt to take over as Liberal leader.
“There was a determined insurgency from a number of people both in the party room and backed by voices, powerful voices, in the media, to bring down, not bring down the government, but bring down my prime ministership,” he said on the televised broadcast on ABC. “It was extraordinary. It was described as madness by many, and I think it’s difficult to describe it in any other way.”
Asked about the leadership spill more generally, Turnbull admitted: “Australians will be dumbstruck and so appalled by the conduct of the last few weeks.”
However, after 45 members voted in favour of spilling and 40 against just hours before, Turnbull admitted he felt happy with loyalty he was shown in the meeting room, adding: “In the party room meeting today I was impressed by how many of my colleagues spoke or voted for loyalty above disloyalty.
“How the insurgents were not rewarded by electing Mr Dutton, for example, but instead my successor, who I wish the very best, of course, Scott Morrison, a very loyal and effective treasurer.”
He later thanked Morrison, but said: “Above all I want to thank Julie Bishop, she’s a very dear friend. We’ve been friends for over 30 years, she’s been an extraordinary foreign minister, I would say our finest… She’s been a loyal deputy and friend.”
The former PM concluded: “It has been such a privilege to be the leader of this great nation. I love Australia. I love Australians. We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as one of our greatest assets.”
Turnbull also gave a moving tribute to his wife Lucy and children Alex and Daisy for their ongoing love and support.
Revealing he’s looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren now, the 63-year-old welcomed them out to stand beside him as he took questions from chosen reporters.
“Above all I want to thank my wife Lucy for her love and support, our children, son Alex and our daughter Daisy,” he said. “It isn’t easy being either married to, or the child of, a politician, let alone a prime minister, and often children get attention from the media and others that they frankly don’t deserve…
“So it’s been tough on them at times, but I want to thank them for their solidarity and loyalty and love.”
He went on to reveal his excitement at spending more time with his grandchildren, as well as Lucy, before adding: “Finally I want to thank the Australian people and all they have done for me. It’s been a privilege being leader of this country… I love Australia.”
It comes after Morrison was confirmed as the new prime minister of Australia, beating Peter Dutton and Julie Bishop in a final battle for the top spot.