Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused right-wing Liberals of taking the liberalism out of their party and believes they didn’t want him as their leader because they couldn’t control him.
Mr Turnbull also thinks his predecessor Tony Abbott and his allies, along with media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch and right-wing “shock jocks”, would have preferred Labor’s Bill Shorten to be prime minister than him.
“A Liberal Party they could not control is not a Liberal Party they wanted to have,” he told ABC’s 7.30 on Monday.
He has expressed the sentiments in an interview promoting his newly released memoir A Bigger Picture.
Mr Turnbull lost the prime ministership in 2018 and was replaced by Scott Morrison, who led the Coalition to victory in the federal election in 2019.
He has accused wealthy media figures of contributing to his downfall in a bid for power.
“The one thing those plutocrats knew … is that I did not belong to them,” he said.
“When you boil it down … I think this was ultimately about power.
“They wanted to have again a prime minister who they felt they had some control over, they had an ownership of.”
He said Mr Morrison had obviously worked to become leader.
Mr Turnbull said he had never sought to have power himself without purpose.
He acknowledged he is ambitious but said he had “wanted to do things and get things done”.
Earlier, senior cabinet ministers were sent pirated copies of Mr Turnbull’s memoir, with his publisher blaming one of Scott Morrison’s staff.
Nick Louw, a senior adviser to the prime minister, has reportedly apologised for circulating the copies before its public release on Monday.
Mr Turnbull told Guardian Australia Mr Louw had contacted his lawyers and acknowledged he had circulated the digital version of the book to 59 acquaintances.
Mr Turnbull said the only reason for circulating copies in large numbers would be to reduce earnings from regular sales.
Publisher Hardie Grant claims someone in Mr Morrison’s office had circulated the book to people who then reported the “illegal edition”.
The publisher’s law firm HWL Ebsworth, which is also representing Mr Turnbull, sent a cease-and-desist notice to the staff member.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne denied the copy she was sent came from the prime minister’s office.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said a personal friend outside the government sent him the book.
Both said they had deleted the messages immediately.
Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has a chapter dedicated to him – titled “Barnaby and the bonk ban” – about his spectacular falling out with Mr Turnbull after his affair with a staffer became public.
Mr Joyce wasn’t sympathetic about the book being pirated.
“He never respected anyone’s confidence and it looks like no one respected his copyright,” he told Seven’s Sunrise on Monday.