Former Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull let rip in a no-holds-barred TV appearance on Q&A on Thursday night, slamming a long list of his former Liberal colleagues who he blamed for “blowing up the government” by axing him as leader.
But when quizzed on what sparked the controversial leadership spill, Turnbull had no answers – admitting: “The only people who can answer that are the people who engineered the coup.”
Now, current Prime Minister Scott Morrison has attempted to shed some light on why the coup happened in a surprising public statement, admitting while he had no part in it, he supports the right of all Liberal MPs to change the leader of the party.
Speaking at a Lifeline event in Sydney, Morrison reportedly said some members involved in the spill felt the party needed to better connect with the values of its grassroots members.
According to The Australian, he told journalist Mike Munro: “Those who had advocated that (change in leadership) made points about the need to better connect with the values and beliefs of Liberal, National and LNP members across the country.”
Morrison went on to defend the right of those same colleagues to re-elect a new leader, should they wish to – as it is their right as MPs to do so.
“We live in a parliamentary democracy, we don’t live in a presidential system,” he added. “The Parliamentary Liberal Party decides who their leader is and the Parliamentary Liberal Party formed a decision that we wanted to make a change.”
His vow that he had nothing to do with the spill was echoed by Turnbull during his Q&A appearance on Thursday night, as he told the crowd: “The insurgency was led by Peter Dutton, Scott [Morrison] did not support it.”
Turnbull went on to name specific party members he believes engineered the coup, including Dutton, Tony Abbott, Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield, Michaelia Cash, Greg Hunt, Steve Ciobo, Michael Keenan, Angus Taylor, before adding: “[They] effectively blew up the government.”
Finance Minister Cormann has since spoken out to defend himself against the claims saying he “did not engineer any coup”, adding to Sky News: “I voted for Malcolm on that Tuesday… but it was clear given the result that day that his position had become irretrievable and that it was in the interests of the country, the government, and the Liberal Party for the issue of the leadership of the Liberal Party to be resolved with more certainty before we left that week.
“Going into the break without the issue resolved would have created unbelievable instability and chaos and dysfunction … I wish what had happened on the Tuesday didn’t happen.”
Meanwhile, Turnbull earned himself a round of applause on Q&A as he launched into a passionate speech about the lack of respect for women in Australian politics – insisting it’s currently seriously “out of date”.
“I believe the culture in parliament is not sufficiently respectful of women. As someone who came in from the corporate sector, I’d say it’s decades out of date. It’s very blokey and there is insufficient respect for women,” he said on the show.
He added: “Just about every woman in parliament will confirm that in one way or another… You have to lead by example, I have done so, and you have to speak up for respect of women.”
One way Turnbull famously pushed for reforms was by introducing his ‘bonking ban’ after Barnaby Joyce’s affair with staffer Vikki Campion was exposed.
He said of the sex ban: “You’d think you wouldn’t need to do it! You’d think it would be pretty obvious. I wanted to ensure parliament as a workplace respected women in a way that a modern workplace must do.”
And asked about alleged bullying of women in politics, one audience member asked the former PM whether the results of an investigation into these claims should be made public. He replied: “Everything in parliament should be accountable… People are entitled to know what happened in the course of these events.”