Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out any intention of going after the prime minister’s job, but won’t rule out taking the post in the long term.
“I don’t have any plans, any desires, any expectations to be the leader, that’s true,” Mr Turnbull told the ABC on Thursday.
“Having said that, politics is an unpredictable business.”
The communications minister said he was very happy in his current portfolio and believed his prospects for the prime minister’s job were “somewhere between nil and negligible”.
But he wouldn’t rule out the possibility sometime in the future.
I don’t have any plans, any desires, any expectations to be the leader
“I don’t think there is any member in the House of Representatives who in the right circumstances would not take on the responsibility,” he said.
Mr Turnbull has come under fire this week for his heated responses to conservative critics who are accusing him of vying for the top job.
He called commentator Andrew Bolt “demented” and “unhinged” earlier in the week, and on Thursday lashed out at Alan Jones, calling him a “bomb-thrower”.
Mr Turnbull said the series of events could be described as a coordinated campaign between the broadcasters.
But he has no suspicion that orders to attack came from the prime minister’s office.
“Absolutely not … that really would be mad,” he said.
The ongoing interest in the subject is the “inevitable and calculated consequence” of the attacks made by Bolt and Jones, he said.
Mr Turnbull said he would not stand by and let that falsehood be peddled.
“Because there is a risk that if you don’t stand up to bullies and people who peddle these lies that they will start to be accepted.”