Federal MPs based in Julie Bishop’s home state of Western Australia have failed to declare their allegiance to Tony Abbott.
The New Daily contacted every WA backbencher on Wednesday and asked whether they supported the prime minister, after days of simmering tensions boiled over within the party, throwing the government into turmoil.
Most of the MPs distanced themselves from the leadership issue, indicating it will be discussed at the first parliamentary Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday.
Don Randall’s office told The New Daily he had no interest in involving himself with “party room matters”.
Ken Wyatt said he considered himself part of a team and told The New Daily he wouldn’t be discussing the leadership ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
Melissa Price and Rick Wilson threw their support behind Mr Abbott, with Ms Price declaring it “a mistake” to change leaders.
Speaking to the Kalgoorlie Miner, Mr Wilson said he believed the party room would support the prime minister.
“I’m absolutely rock-solid behind the PM and I won’t know until I get back to Canberra, but I’m absolutely sure the party room will be as well.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Christian Porter told The New Daily “of course” he supports his leader.
Steve Irons, and Nola Marino, who is also Government Whip, were contacted by The New Daily but refused to comment on the issue.
Luke Simpkins’ office said he was not able to comment as he had been in Burma for the past two weeks and only returned on Wednesday morning.
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan, Luke Simpkins, and Ian Goodenough were also contacted but were unavailable for comment.
Turnbull, Bishop dominate the polls
Despite the WA MPs keeping their cards close to their chest, the Prime Minister’s hold on the leadership is under threat, as other Coalition MPs publicly call for him to be replaced.
Polls are showing strong public support for former leader Malcolm Turnbull to replace the PM, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop a close second.
On Wednesday, spokesperson for Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has denied he is canvassing backbenchers for support in a potential vote on the leadership.
Mr Turnbull, who led the party in opposition before Tony Abbott, has been touted as a potential replacement.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also denied she is canvassing support for the leadership.
Viewed as a frontrunner in a potential spill, the Western Australian MP said on Wednesday she would not deal in “hypotheticals”.
“I should not be called upon to rule out what I’m clearly not doing,” Ms Bishop said.
“I said to the PM yesterday that I am not campaigning for his job, I am not ringing the backbench seeking support, I am not counting numbers. I support the leader, PM Tony Abbott.”
Ms Bishop revealed she spoke to fellow Western Australian MP Dennis Jensen after he called for Mr Abbott to be replaced on Tuesday night, but would not comment on the nature of the call.
Speaking on ABC’s 7.30, Dr Jensen said Mr Abbott had lost his support and the leadership issue needed to be “brought to a head”.
The ABC has reported they can identify 10 MPs who would support a spill motion, while another 20 could be described as “highly disaffected or harbouring deep concerns”.
— Kathleen O’Connor (@k_oconnor1) February 4, 2015
“I think I’m certainly expediting the discussion that we need to have.” Says Jensen, who initiated spill motion against Turnbull in 09 — Annabel Crabb (@annabelcrabb) February 3, 2015
Mark Riley says “30-40 Lib MPs want a vote on the leadership”
— Rob Harris (@rharris334) February 3, 2015