It has been two months since he launched a challenge against Malcolm Turnbull in the Liberal partyroom in a bid to claim the prime ministership for his own, but now Peter Dutton has spoken out in defence of the former PM after he came under fire over an upcoming trip to Bali.
Turnbull, who has since retired completely from Aussie politics, is due to fly to the Indonesian island as part of a taxpayer-funded trip to represent Australia at the Our Ocean Conference, which will take place next week.
Many people, including One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, were quick to criticise Scott Morrison’s decision to send his predecessor to the conference, particularly after he failed to campaign for defeated Liberal candidate Dave Sharma in the lead up to last weekend’s crucial Wentworth by-election.
However one person who does not think it was a bad idea to send Turnbull to Bali is Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who told 2GB presenter Ray Hadley that it made sense to send the former Wentworth MP to the meeting because he already has a relationship with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Describing Turnbull’s behaviour in New York, as well as his decision not to endorse Sharma ahead of the Wentworth by-election, as “abhorrent”, Hadley asked Dutton whether the former PM should be going to Bali to represent the country.
“Yes he should. I’ve had a very close look at this and I’ve spoken to Scott Morrison about it,” Dutton said. “The fact is we have a very close relationship with Indonesia, we’re in negotiations about a free trade agreement at the moment.
“I think this has been blown a little bit out of proportion. Malcolm does have a relationship with the Indonesian President. The Indonesian President had extended an invitation to Malcolm to go to this conference. In the end, the government makes the decisions on all policy areas. The Cabinet will, the Prime Minister will.
“Mr Turnbull is going as a representative of our country and I think it’s appropriate in the circumstances.”
Scott Morrison also defended his decision to send Turnbull earlier this week, stating that it was right as he was the one originally invited, before he was rolled as prime minister at the end of August.
According to Nine News, he said: “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,” Morrison said. “For me, national interest comes first.”