Tony Abbott says he remains determined to continue as Prime Minister, in spite of reports the Queensland election result has doomed his leadership.
Some federal Coalition MPs have described the LNP’s loss in Queensland as “catastrophic” for the party and potentially terminal for Mr Abbott’s leadership.
Queensland MPs Jane Prentice and Warren Entsch have both said there now need to be “discussions” about the issue, but Tony Abbott says he will not resign.
“The people of Australia elected me as Prime Minister and they elected my government to get on with the job of governing our country,” he told reporters in Sydney today.
“The important thing is not to navel-gaze, it’s not to look at ourselves, it’s to get on with the job of being a better Government.”
Mr Abbott attributed the LNP’s Queensland defeat to state issues, but did acknowledge that his decision to knight Prince Philip had hurt Campbell Newman’s campaign.
“It was a distraction for a couple of days, I accept that and I very much regret that,” Mr Abbott said.
Earlier Federal Attorney-General and Queensland senator George Brandis moved to quash speculation of a challenge to Mr Abbott’s leadership.
“The Cabinet is determinedly, unitedly and strongly behind the Prime Minister,” Senator Brandis said on Sky News this morning.
“There is absolutely no appetite among the vast majority of my colleagues for this issue to arise or even to be visited.”
Abbott’s approval rating just 27 per cent: poll
A Galaxy poll published on Sunday in News Limited newspapers has Labor leading the Liberal-National Coalition 57 points to 43 on a two-party preferred basis.
Mr Abbott’s personal approval rating is just 27 per cent.
While also backing the Prime Minister, another Queensland Liberal, Warren Entsch, on Sunday morning said the leadership needed to be addressed.
“I think there’s some more discussions that need to be had,” Mr Entsch said.
“I’ll certainly be part of those discussions.”
Mr Entsch also conceded that the Prime Minister’s decision to award a knighthood to Prince Philip had played a part in the LNP’s loss in Queensland.
“People certainly suggest knighting the Duke of Edinburgh did not go over well in Queensland and it may have influenced some people’s vote,” he said.
Senator Brandis was more forthright, describing the knighthood issue as a “dangerous distraction” in the final week of campaigning.
“That one issue created a distraction that caused the Newman Government to lose momentum,” he said.
Senator Brandis acknowledged that the result would have “federal implications”, but firmly rejected suggestions it would bring the leadership issue to a head.
“The Prime Minister has the overwhelming support of the party room.
“There is no widespread appetite in the Liberal Party for a leadership change.
“We would be crazy to repeat the experience of the last Labor government, which failed because it tore down an elected leader.”
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss this morning conceded the federal Coalition had to learn from the election result.
“That agenda has been frustrated in the Senate because many of the good things we wanted to do we haven’t been able to,” he said.
“On the other hand we need to do more to explain to people at the federal level that we have delivered.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has told the ABC’s Insiders program that there were “federal issues at stake” in Queensland.
Mr Shorten said the leadership was “up to the Liberal Party”, but said the result should be seen as a rejection of the Federal Government’s policies.
“If they think it’s the salesman, not what they’re selling, then they will have learnt nothing.”