Malcolm Turnbull has downplayed threats to the Liberal Party posed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and warned against turning the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet into a “caricature”.
In an address to the Deakin Institute last night, the Communications Minister denied that the comments were directed at Scott Morrison and called for a calmer more rational debate about the country’s leadership.
In his prepared comments, Mr Turnbull said that the danger posed to the Liberal Party by Mr Abbott was not as great as past threats such as John Hewson or Alexander Downer.
“Now, just as we should not be complacent about threats posed to us at the next election, it is equally important that we not overestimate that threat. The Labor Party still has Stephen Conroy and Joel Fitzgibbon in its ranks. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have recently returned to the spotlight.
“People dream Tony’s impact is so great as to overwhelm all this. We should be careful not to be seen to be adding to these delusions.”
Mr Turnbull’s address was briefly brought to a halt as Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi was escorted out of the building after repeatedly “interrupting”.