Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was not interested in getting ‘caught up’ in innuendo that his leadership of the Liberal Party was under threat.
On Sunday night, speculation was rife that several front bench MPs were pushing Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to mount a leadership challenge by the end of the year.
Some reported a spill of the Liberal leadership could happen as early as this week, however Mr Abbott did not want to engage in any such talk.
“I am not going to get caught up in Canberra gossip. I’m not going to play Canberra games,” Mr Abbott said on Monday.
“I know that sometimes, the media particularly like to play the Canberra game but I’m just not going to get involved in it.
“I’m just not going to chase all of these rabbits down all of the burrows that you are inviting me to go down.
“I’m just not going to play the Canberra games. Other people can play Canberra games. The public don’t like this insider gossip.”
Over the weekend, two polls suggested the Coalition could face a double digit swing in the Canning by-election next Saturday.
Some suggested a result like this could spark Mr Abbott to call a double dissolution election, while others say a poor result would cause a leadership challenge.
The ABC reported some six ministers believe Mr Abbott should be replaced before the year is out.
Mr Abbott refused to discuss such a possibility in South Australia on Monday.
“The public don’t like the Canberra games, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m never gonna play them,” he said.
“My job is to do what the public elected me to do two years ago, and that is to govern effectively every day for three years and then submit myself to the judgment of the people.
“But I expect that the government will go to the middle of next year and maybe a bit beyond, because that’s what we were elected to do three years ago.”
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey was similarly stoic in the face of speculation on radio Monday morning. He spoke on ABC Radio Breakfast Melbourne.
He was asked by Jon Faine: “Do you walk the plank to save Tony Abbott?”
Mr Hockey responded: “We’re getting on with the job.”
Social services minister Scott Morrison was also guarded on 2GB Radio: “I’ve got no idea what others are up to, that’s up to them.”